Important Nutrients in your 50's & 60's - Performance Kitchen

Of course, you want to meet your daily requirements for all vitamins and minerals, regardless of your age. However, certain nutrients may be especially important during different decades of your life.

Your 50s

You can’t take your health for granted in your 50s. This is a period when your metabolism slows down, so you have less leeway in your diet. Heart disease, blood pressure, and blood sugar issues may also arise in your 50s.

Focus on getting enough calcium in your diet, as always. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re eating plenty of fiber. It’s not only tied to gut health, but to heart health and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes as well. Additionally, omega 3s are as important as in previous life stages. They help promote a healthier heart and help lower the chronic inflammation that can lead to numerous diseases.  

Here are other nutrients to consider in your 50s.

Protein is found in both plant and animal foods. Either source is suitable for maintaining muscle mass and contributing to the formation of enzymes, antibodies, hormones, etc.

Beginning in your 40s, your metabolism starts to slow down as you lose muscle tissue. Adequate protein at each of your meals can help you maintain your muscle mass and function better throughout life. 

Vitamin B12 is required for proper brain functioning, and some studies indicate that low levels may be connected to memory loss and dementia.

Once you hit 50,  you’re less able to absorb vitamin B12, leaving you vulnerable to deficiency. While it’s always a good idea to emphasize whole foods, this is a case where a supplement may be needed. Additionally, you can findB12 in animal foods, such as seafood, poultry, and grass-fed meat. If you’re strictly eating a plant-based diet, you’ll need to get this nutrient from supplements or fortified foods.

Vitamin C is a top anti-aging nutrient to consider in your 50s. Not only is it tied to your immune function, but it’s also a potent antioxidant that can help counter free radical damage. Free radicals are compounds that harm cells and leave them vulnerable to changes that can promote cancer, heart disease, and even skin aging.

Vitamin C is also required to synthesize collagen. That means it can help keep your skin firm, less wrinkly, and younger-looking.

Your 60s

It’s never too late to start thinking about your health. Paying attention to nutrition in your 60s can help you reduce your risk of diseases, like heart disease and type 2 diabetes and dementia, and enjoy a better quality of life in your later years. 

Here are some nutrients that are particularly important in your 60s.

Protein, whether from plant or animal sources, is needed throughout life to maintain muscle mass and contribute to the formation of enzymes, antibodies, hormones, etc.

As you age, your metabolism slows down and you start to lose muscle mass. Your protein requirements increase as you age in order to offset these declines. To make sure you’re getting adequate protein, include a source of protein, such as seafood or beans, at each of your meals.

Fiber will help keep your bowels regular, which is helpful since you’re more likely to become constipated as you age.  Additionally,  a high fiber diet may reduce your risk of numerous diseases and aid in weight management. Plus, fiber is needed to maintain a healthy gut environment, which then supports your immune function. 

Get your fill of fiber by including plant foods, such as whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables, at meals and snacks.

Calcium needs increase for all adults over 70, but you don’t want to delay paying attention to this mineral. Low calcium intake contributes to osteoporosis and an increased risk in fractures. To get enough calcium in your diet, aim for three servings of dairy foods per day. If you aren’t including dairy in your diet, speak to a registered dietitian who can help you plan how to meet your calcium requirements with plant based foods.

Potassium is a mineral involved in blood pressure regulation. In addition to consuming healthy sodium levels, it’s important to get enough potassium in your diet as studies show this may help lower your risk of developing high blood pressure. Potassium is found in fruits, vegetables, beans, and dairy foods. A good rule of thumb is to include a fruit with breakfast and a snack and to eat a half plate of veggies with lunch and dinner. This’ll help you meet your potassium needs.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (MUFAs and PUFAs) should be the dominant fats in your diet. This strategy helps displace less healthy saturated fat and can help you lower your risk of heart disease. MUFAs are primarily found in extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil while ideal sources of PUFAs include nuts and seafood. Omega 3 fatty acids are a notable type of PUFAs that can help lower your inflammatory process and reduce your risk of many diseases. In order to get enough of these healthful fats, it’s recommended that you eat two servings of seafood each week in addition to omega-3 rich walnuts and flax, chia, and hemp seeds.

Vitamin B12 is required for proper brain functioning, and some studies indicate that low levels are correlated with memory loss and dementia. 

Beginning at  50,  you’re less able to absorb vitamin B12, leaving you vulnerable to deficiency. A supplement is recommended later in life, but  you can find B12 in animal foods, such as seafood, poultry, and grass-fed meat. 

Personal story from our Nutrition Advisor, Samantha Cassetty: Now that I’m 50, I truly appreciate that I tended to my body earlier in life. It’s a total gift to age, and an even bigger gift to age healthfully. That’s what nutrition can help with!