Recommended Nutrients That People Over 40 Should Add To Their Diet

Our body goes through changes throughout our life, and these changes affect our physical appearance, general wellbeing, and even our mood. Once we enter our fifth decade, our bodies go through some of the most significant changes we’ll even experience, such as decrease in bone density, changes in the metabolism, etc. However, while some of these changes cannot be prevented, there are still things we can do in order to feel more healthy and vital. This guide will introduce you to the 10 most important minerals, vitamins, and nutrients that anyone over the age of 40 needs to know.

1. Antioxidants

As time passes, your body is exposed to various oxidizing processes. These processes occur when free radicals, atoms/molecules/ions that are constantly pounding your body, manage to cause cellular damage, which causes aging. During the first few decades of our lives, natural antioxidants in our body keep it protected from these free radicals, but as time passes, the constant assault becomes too much for the body to handle.

Food sources of natural antioxidants such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and cocoa powder. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals

Recommendations and Dosage:

The solution is to consume more foods that contain antioxidants in-order to strengthen the body’s natural defenses. Antioxidants are abundant in foods that are rich in vitamins C, A and E, and experts recommend five portions of such foods daily. You can find these vitamins in nuts, grapes, broccoli, garlic, and green coffee beans, amongst others.  

2. Proteins

The body uses proteins as building blocks, and they are used for many vital processes, including the construction of bones, hair and nails. However, once you reach the 5th decade, protein breakdown increases, causing the body to try and overcome this process by breaking down muscle tissue, causing you to lose more and more muscle mass.

Recommendations and Dosage:

The recommended daily intake of proteins is 150-200 grams (5-7oz) of quality protein. Good protein can be found in eggs, lean beef, skinless chicken, turkey breast, fish such as salmon and tuna, low-fat dairy products, and legumes. It is important not to overdo it with protein intake, to minimize the stress on the liver and kidneys.

3. Calcium

Calcium is a vital nutrient, responsible for blood clotting, blood-pressure stabilization, and of-course, strengthening the bones. The bones take damage all the time, but as time passes, bone density decreases, a process that worsens when you’re in your 40’s, making the bones more fragile. One of the main causes for this process is osteoporosis, which affects women in their 50’s, as menopause lowers the production of estrogen. In men, this process hits in their 60’s, as testosterone production decreases.

Recommendations and Dosage:

The recommended daily intake is 1000mg for people in their 40’s, and 1200mg for people over 50. Calcium can be obtained by eating dairy products, whole sesame, cabbage, broccoli, beans, lettuce, quinoa, nuts and almonds. Alternatively, calcium is also available as a supplement, but it is recommended that you consult with your doctor before taking any kind of supplement. Additionally, add foods that are rich in vitamin C and magnesium, as they aid in calcium absorption in the body.  

4. Vitamin K

In addition to preventing osteoporosis, vitamin K also aids in strengthening the bones. This vitamin is responsible for activating various proteins that are essential for bone health, increasing bone density and reducing the risk of fractures.

Recommendations and Dosage:

Consume green vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, or broccoli. Consuming two portions throughout the day will provide the needed dosage of vitamin K, while keeping your bones healthy.

5. Vitamin B12

B12 becomes much more vital once you reach your 5th decade of life, as it is needed to maintain the functions of the brain and nervous system, as well as participating in the metabolic process and is in charge of energy production. B12 is usually obtained from meat, fish and eggs. When we hit our 40’s, we may develop a deficiency of this important nutrient, due to changes in the acidity levels in the stomach, which makes it harder for the body to absorb it. Some of the most obvious symptoms of B12 deficiency are: lethargy, stomachaches, anemia, and some memory problems. It is highly advisable to ask your physician for a B12 levels test once a year.

Recommendations and Dosage:

The simplest solutions is to increase your consumption of B12-rich foods on a daily basis. Good sources are soy, canned tuna (in oil), beef, salmon and cheese. B12 is water-soluble, so any excess quantities will be naturally expelled. If you’re taking B12 supplements, the recommended daily dosage is 2.4mg.  

6. Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is quite common, but becomes more risky as we age, and in your 50’s, it can become truly detrimental to your health. The reason is vitamin D’s affects on bone structure, immune system functions, healthy muscle functions, protection against inflammation, and more.

Recommendations and Dosage:

Vitamin D is abundant in many foods, including eggs, fish oil, mushrooms, cereals, dairy and more. Click here to learn more about vitamin D. Vitamin D levels can be tested through a simple blood test, after which a physician will determine the necessary supplementation quantity. Since overdosing on vitamin D is unhealthy, it is advisable to consult with a dietitian as to what foods should be consumed.

7. Fiber

Nutritional fibers are plant-based carbs that help maintain the health of the bowels and their regular functions. Fibers form a “net” that slows down food absorption as it moves from the stomach to the bowels, thus reducing the load on the digestive system. Fibers become even more important after the age of 40 as it catches fats, cholesterol, and glucose – all of which can lead to cardiovascular diseases, as well as type 2 diabetes. In addition, fibers help prevent colon cancer, and in women it reduces the risk of breast cancer.

Recommendations and Dosage:

The recommended daily dosage is between 25 and 40 grams of fibers, and a balanced diet that includes four portions of fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole-wheat bread. In addition, adding oat bran to soups and yoghurts will make it easier to get more fiber in your diet.  

8. Potassium

Potassium is a mineral that plays a vital role in maintaining blood pressure, which becomes even more important after the age of 40 in the prevention of low blood pressure. In addition, potassium aides in maintaining the healthy functions of the cardiac muscles, metabolism, and PH balance in the body. People with low potassium levels will often suffer from low blood pressure, muscular fatigue, and chronic lethargy.

Recommendations and Dosage:

The recommended daily dosage is 4,700mg, and can be maintained by eating bananas, sweet potatoes, beet leaves, beans, salmon and spinach. However, avoid overconsumption of potassium because in large quantities it can adversely affect the digestion and cardiovascular systems.

9. Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids hold an important spot on this list because they help neutralize and minimize some of the changes the body experiences as it ages. Some of the aforementioned changes are increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, changes in blood pressure, and an increase in LDL cholesterol levels. In addition, Omega 3 has beneficial effects in combating memory loss and dementia, and helps maintain the brain’s health.

Recommendations and Dosage:

Healthy individuals should consume as much as 500mg of Omega 3 daily, while people with heart problems should consume between 800 and 1000mg. These quantities are easily obtainable through the consumption of fish, walnuts, flax seeds and leafy greens. It is also possible to take omega 3 as a supplement, but people who take anticoagulants should consult with their physician first.  

10. Magnesium

Magnesium is a vital mineral that takes part in many of the body functions, such as the health of the bones, nervous system, muscles, and energy production. After the age of 40, magnesium also aides in regulating blood pressure, calcium absorption, and maintaining healthy glucose levels in the blood. However, magnesium becomes harder to absorb with age.

Recommendations and Dosage:

Magnesium deficiency can be diagnosed through blood tests, but luckily, a balanced diet can provide most of the necessary magnesium the body needs, which is between 320 to 420mg per day. The best sources of magnesium are avocados, spinach and mangold, nuts and almonds, whole grains and rice, tofu, and bran. If a healthy diet is not enough to maintain adequate magnesium levels, supplements can be a good solution. However, too much magnesium is not healthy, so it is important to consult with a physician before taking those, as they may lead to low blood pressure.