Over 40? Start looking more closely at your nutrition

As we age from the minute we are born, our nutrition requirements change regularly.
And not only do we need to eat fewer calories just to stay the same weight, but as we get older our body becomes less efficient at absorbing key nutrients.

Therefore maintaining or improving health becomes a little harder as the years go by.

For instance, there’s a normal decline in gastric acid as we age.
And thus young people can have a higher ‘bioavailability’ of micronutrients than older individuals.
In other words, our ability to absorb micronutrients is reduced as we age.

Dr Greger from nutritionfacts.org explained how certain anti-nutrients are actually important and helpful antioxidants.
But there’s no getting away from it: anti-oxidants that are also known as anti-nutrients (such as phytates and polyphenols etc.) can reduce the absorption rate of some important minerals like zinc, iron, calcium and others.

And because our delicious plant-based food is brimming with antioxidants of which many are antinutrients, that presents a small hurdle for ensuring we get all the goodies we need to stay healthy and vibrant well into our elegant years.

This is one of the reasons some nutritionists recommend we should not just aim for the Recommended Dietary Allowance [RDA] but aim a little higher.

So which are the nutrients we can’t absorb very well?
Dare I say…all?

Well, no, I won’t say that because most likely that’s not quite right.

But there’s a definite need to ‘up’ our nutrient intake so we don’t miss out on anything. And most times, as long as you eat a varied unprocessed plant based diet, you will be just fine.

However, we want to thrive, not just survive.


So let’s start to look at the first two nutrients we may need to keep an eye on after 40.
Other suggestions will follow.
Omega 3 DHA EPA
They have a wide range of health benefits, including brain health, possibly reducing symptoms in rheumatoid arthritis and slowing the progression of reduced vision in the elderly. Heart health links appear stronger when consuming fish, but not necessarily when consuming supplements.
As with other supplements, there are conflicting research results on taking Omega 3 supplements for preventing heart attacks.

Did you know that vegan food doesn’t have Omega 3 DHA EPA?

Many rely on nuts and seeds to provide some Omegas. However, those mainly contain a different type, namely ALA….[there are about 11 differnt ones]
And unfortunately our body can only convert a small percentage ALA into DHA EPA.
Therefore many of us use a vegan supplement made from algae.

Sticking to a combined dose of DHA EPA at 500 mg is safe for most of us.

NOTE: Omega 3 DHA EPA thins our blood a little bit….This means that those who already take medications such as anticoagulants (“blood thinners”) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen etc. should discuss the use of omega-3 fatty acid supplements with their health care provider.
In addition, before having any operations or any dental work, stop taking Omega 3 supplements for a couple of weeks. You don’t wish to be left with bleeding wounds for too long!

All up there are 10 supplemental types. The each offer a slightly different benefit.
It’s been established that older people are often deficient in this mineral.
Under older, they mean the elderly rather than women who are 40-ish.

But to prevent fatigue and to ensure good bone and heart health in the future, after 40 we need to start looking at getting enough of this mineral.

Magnesium plays a crucial role in more than 300 processes in our body.
To name just a few: we need it for our immune system, muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, blood pressure control and making protein and DNA.
It’s a very busy mineral.

The amount you need depends on your age and sex AND…apparently on your local government’s advice.
In the UK adult females are told we need only 270mg a day….
In the States women need more: 310-350mg [Which country is right?]
Australian women under 31 are told they need 310mg a day. Over 31 they need 320mg [same as in Canada]
And similarly, the EU wrote in 2006 that the Aussie and Canadian recommended amounts are correct.
During pregnancy and breastfeeding the amounts go up [again depends on where you live] to around 320-350.

And where can we find this precious mineral?
in fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes.

Well, isn’t it lucky that these are exactly the foods we eat anyway!
(But are you able to absorb the right amount?)

Tomorrow we continue…