As you age, your need for some nutrients increases; if you are a man over 50, you require higher intakes of calcium and vitamin D. Eating nutrient-dense foods can help you fulfill your requirements. But if you follow poor dietary habits, you are at risk for nutritional deficiencies, says Victoria J. Drake, a research associate at the Linus Pauling Institute. For this reason, you may have to take supplements. Dietary supplements can cause side effects, however, so discuss your need for supplements with your doctor.
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Focus on Calcium
In addition to imparting strength to your bones and teeth, calcium can help prevent osteoporosis, a disease that weakens your bones and renders you susceptible to fractures and injury. The National Osteoporosis Foundation states that about 2 million American men have osteoporosis and up to one in four men over age 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. Moreover, men lose bone mass at the same rate as women by the time they reach the age of 65, reports Brown University Health Education. The recommended dose of calcium for men between ages 51 and 70 is 1,000 milligrams each day. Men over 70 need 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day. Calcium is found naturally in low-fat dairy products, dark leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage and cheese. If you suspect that you are not getting enough calcium from your diet, ask your doctor whether you should take calcium supplements. Too much calcium can lead to stomach upset, constipation, nausea and vomiting.
Don’t Forget Vitamin D
Vitamin D works synergistically with calcium to build healthy bones. In addition, it helps regulate your immune system. Foods that are rich in this vitamin include vitamin D-fortified milk and cereal, eggs, fatty fish and cod liver oil. Men aged 51 to 70 should aim to get 600 international units of vitamin D per day, while men age 71 and older need 800 international units of the vitamin a day. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, seniors may be at risk of developing vitamin D deficiency because their body cannot make enough vitamin D from sunlight, and it struggles to transform vitamin D into a form it can use. If you are deficient in vitamin D, you may experience muscle pain and weakness and bone pain. Seek advice from your doctor before taking vitamin D supplements because they can cause side effects such as poor appetite, weight loss, tiredness and diarrhea.
Get Enough Vitamin E
Found in spinach, almonds, asparagus and sunflower seeds, vitamin E prevents cell damage and contributes to the formation of red blood cells. The recommended dose of vitamin E for men over 50 is 22.4 international units per day. According to New York University Langone Medical Center, it is estimated that nearly 30 percent to 50 percent of people above the age of 85 suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, a brain disease that causes lapses in memory and judgment. A study published in “Journal of American Medical Association" in January 2014 found that taking vitamin E supplements may help slow functional decline in people with Alzheimer's disease. Vitamin E deficiency can lead to vision problems, unsteady walking and muscle weakness. Be sure to consult your doctor before taking vitamin E supplements because they increase the bleeding risk, particularly if you take blood thinners such as warfarin.
Increase Your Vitamin B-12 Intake
Vitamin B-12 helps maintain a healthy nervous system and helps produce your body’s genetic material, DNA and RNA. It works hand in hand with vitamin B-9 to help manufacture red blood cells. Eggs, organ meats, beef and pork contain vitamin B-12. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, older people are at risk for B-12 deficiency because they have low stomach acid, which their body needs to absorb vitamin B-12 efficiently. If you are over 50, you should meet your daily vitamin B-12 requirement -- 2.4 micrograms a day -- through a supplement containing vitamin B-12 or foods fortified with vitamin B-12. While B-12 is considered safe and nontoxic, it should be taken under the guidance of a health care provider.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Linus Pauling Institute: Micronutrients for Older Adults
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Calcium
- Brown University Health Education: Men's Nutrition
- National Osteoporosis Foundation: Just for Men
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin D
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin D
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin E
- New York University Langone Medical Center: Alzheimer’s Disease and Non-Alzheimer’s Dementia
- Alzheimer's Association: 10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's
- Science Daily: Vitamin E May Delay Decline in Mild-to-Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)