Want to enjoy the wisdom of your years and your health? With good nutrition it is possible writes naturopath Siobhan Jordan.
Every nutrient is essential to life whatever our age. However, at certain times the focus can shift, according to our needs and changes in our health. Certain things that used to be no problem before start to give us a bit of grief. Key areas as we age include our cardiovascular health, our joints and our eyes. We’ll call them the big three.
CoQ10 – The Cardiovascular King
CoQ10, or coenzyme Q10, is found in high concentrations in the heart muscle. A deficiency is associated with cardiovascular conditions and it can assist in the management of high blood pressure (HBP) and cholesterol. The problem is, as we age and need to keep an extra focus on maintaining a healthy heart, our bodies make less of this nutrient. So we need to keep a watch on our dietary CoQ10 intake and also take a supplement. Food sources include meats and fish and to a lesser degree, broccoli, spinach and nuts.
Calcium – It’s More Than Just For Bones
99% of absorbed calcium is deposited in the bones, so getting enough calcium is critical to preventing and treating osteoporosis. This mineral is also important for a healthy heart and a deficiency has been linked to high blood pressure.
Food sources include dairy products, tofu, fish with their bones (especially sardines and salmon) and your greens such as broccoli and bok choy.
Magnesium – For A Healthy Heart And Joints
Similarly to calcium, magnesium is also essential to our heart and bones. This multi-tasking mineral is critical to a number of cardiovascular functions such as the maintenance of normal blood pressure. It may also help those with coronary artery disease and ischemic heart disease. In addition, it may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
So eat up those trusty dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and also legumes, nuts and seeds and wholegrain cereals.
Lutein – For The Eyes, It’s The Great Preventer
Lutein belongs to the carotenoid family, along with betacarotene. Found in many parts of the body, it concentrates in the retina, and especially in the macular region of the retina. Playing a strong protective role in the eye, it may reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.
To boost your lutein levels, again, your dark green leafy vegetables are a must, as are egg yolks and corn.
Vitamin D – The Sun’s Gift To Your Bones
This unique nutrient can be produced by the body after sunlight exposure and also consumed through our diet. Vitamin D-rich foods include fish such as herring, salmon, tuna and sardines and also eggs, butter and beef.
Vitamin D supports healthy bones by regulating calcium levels. Signs of deficiency include osteoporosis and low vitamin D status is associated with an increased risk of falls in those aged 65-75 years.
Omega-3 For The Big 3
The omega-3 from fish oil is a must, especially as we advance in our years. A deficiency is associated with cardiovascular disease and omega-3 plays numerous roles in cardiovascular health including helping to reduce high triglycerides and maintain healthy blood pressure. The DHA component of omega-3 is also found in high concentrations in the eye tissue and is a gem for reducing rheumatoid arthritis symptoms such as joint stiffness and tenderness.
Excellent sources are, you guessed it, fish. Step up your intake of salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring. If you don’t eat fish take a fish oil supplement.
So take a proactive approach to your health. Focus on diet and supplements to provide life essential nutrients to support your health and wellbeing.
1. Rosenfeldt. Research on the effects of coenzyme q10 on the cardiovascular system in health and disease, viewed 25th June 2008,
2. Braun, Lesley and Cohen, Marc. Herbs and natural supplements: an evidence-based guide, second edition. Marrickville: Elsevier, 2007
3. Higdon, Jane. An evidence-based approach to dietary phytochemicals. New York: Thieme, 2007