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Nutrition secrets for those over 60

By Georgia Boley

Registered Dietitian

SHERIDAN — There are  five top tips if you’re 60 years or older:

• The number one tip is more protein! Most seniors have a difficult time chewing, digesting, and absorbing protein, and therefore do not get enough. Those over 60 should try to have 2.42 grams of protein for every pound of body weight. For an optimal diet, try to balance your traditional Wyoming protein sources (red meat) with alternative healthy protein sources  from plant-based foods such as beans and rice, nuts, grains like quinoa and fish. Eggs are a great choice as well.

• The second tip is more fiber! Fiber is only found in plants, and most American seniors do not get the RDA of this plant nutrient. Women should have 25 grams of fiber daily and men should shoot for 37 grams. Great fiber sources are nuts, beans, green leafy vegetables, squashes and whole fruits.

• The third tip for those over 60 is increasing magnesium. Shoot for at least 200 mg magnesium daily. This helps with blood sugar and blood pressure control, and helps with nerve function and proper hormone function. High magnesium foods include sunflower seeds, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds, halibut, unsweetened cocoa powder and almonds.

• The fourth tip is get adequate vitamin D. As we age, we don’t make vitamin D from the sun as well. In addition, because we live above the 40th parallel, we don’t make vitamin D very well in the winter months, or whenever your shadow is longer than you. To make sure you are getting enough D, have your vitamin D checked every year. If you live year-round in Wyoming, chances are your lowest D levels will be in March and your highest levels will be in September. You can take vitamin D as a supplement, and it is in some foods, but our body is best designed to get vitamin D from the sun. Sunblock,  aging, darker pigmented skin,  glass and clouds also decrease our ability to make vitamin D. On a sunny summer day, you can get a week’s worth of Vitamin D with 15 minutes of sun to the face, hands, lower legs and forearms. Then go ahead and put on the sunblock.

Vitamin D supplements can be toxic if taking greater than 4000IU’s D3 for a long period of time. Symptoms of toxicity include muscle achiness and bone pain. It can eventually lead to liver damage. If you are on a large dose of vitamin D, work with your doctor or dietitian to decrease the dose appropriately.

• The fifth tip is to get adequate B-12. Vitamin B12 needs a healthy stomach that makes acid, and it needs a healthy small intestine in order to absorb well. If we follow the typical American diet of low fiber, high sugar intake for many years, we increase our risk of atrophic gastritis —  a common stomach issue in America.   Atrophic gastritis means the stomach cannot properly digest B12, along with many other nutrients. B12 is necessary for normal brain and nerve function, for normal red blood cell development, and helps support heart health. Low B12 levels may first present as depression before low levels can be detected in the blood. For more information on B12 and atrophic gastritis, ask to speak with the registered dietitian.


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