Essential Vitamins & Minerals for Grandparents
We have finally reached the last age-group in our essential nutrients series – the grandparents.
As the human body journeys out of adulthood into old-age, its goals begin to shift once again. The body no longer needs to fight aging, but rather to preserve quality of life in the face of it.
The great news is that good nutrition can help the elderly to remain energetic, happy and lively for many years to come. The following nutrients are especially helpful.
Some of the main problems faced by the elderly are arthritis and inflamed joints. As we become older, the lubrication between our bones and cartilage decreases causing bones to begin rubbing against each other. This can become particularly uncomfortable or in extreme cases, even painful.
A very helpful lubricant for your joints is omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3 can’t be made by our body, so is essential in your diet.
Omega – 3 can be found in chia seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds.
Besides keeping the joints healthy, omega 3 can also improve dementia and depression. There are even studies linking omega 3 to a longer lifespan!
It is clear that this nutrient is very important in our advanced years of life.
Fibre and Water
A common problem that the elderly face is constipation. There are a few reasons for this. We often lose our sense of thirst as we age, leading to dehydration. This causes our stools to become hard and difficult to pass. The muscle tone in our intestines also tends to weaken as we get older, which can contribute to the problem.
The final contributor to this uncomfortable condition is a lack of fibre in the diet. The elderly often lose their appetite, live alone and just generally don’t have as much energy for cooking as they used to. This can all contribute to a lower intake of fibre.
But this can easily be fixed! Fresh fruit, vegetables, chickpeas, beans, lentils, whole-grains, nuts and seeds are all great sources of fibre. They should be included in fun, appetising ways.
Here are some useful tips for getting in more fibre and water:
- Create some yummy vegetable soups with beans and lentils.
- Drink freshly blended fruit and vegetable smoothies – try to include some of the pulp where possible.
- Mash different root vegetables together – creating interesting combinations with different herbs and vegetable oils.
- Do not peel your vegetables wherever possible.
- Schedule times for getting in your fluids (in case you forget). Drink a cup of water, herbal tea or fresh juice every two hours or so.
The immune system can begin to slow down a little as we age, so it is very important to give it extra support with a good supply of vitamin C.
Vitamin C helps with the repair of many different body tissues. This includes collagen production, absorption of iron, healing of bones and maintaining healthy gums and teeth – all of which are very important for an aging body!
Citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and cabbage are all fantastic sources of vitamin C, so why not try creating some tasty smoothies, juices or soups with these?
The elderly can sometimes develop a decreased sense of appetite and poor dentition as they age – both of which can make meat rather difficult to stomach.
It is therefore quite common for the older population to receive less iron from their diet and, subsequently, to develop anaemia.
Anaemia causes fatigue and constant tiredness. It can also prevent the body from repairing itself well, which may speed up the aging process itself.
Iron is not only found in meat, but also in green leafy vegetables, chickpeas, lentils, beans, dairy products and eggs.
Helpful tips for getting in extra iron when you’re finding it difficult to chew:
- Create smoothies with almonds / almond butter, yogurt or even some green leafy vegetables thrown in (green veggies can be bitter, so make sure you sweeten these up with some apple or banana).
- Cook up some hearty soups with lentils, beans or chickpeas – puree them to your preferred consistency.
- Drink fresh juices that contain green leafy vegetables (these are available at Nutrivita and can be frozen for up to 3 months).
As we age, calcium-loss in bones increases as our calcium intake often decreases. This can lead to a condition known as osteoporosis (or brittle bones) and is a common cause of the fractures often faced by the elderly.
Milk is the most famous source of calcium, but there are plenty of calcium-fortified milk alternatives on the market too, such as NutriVita’s Almond, Macadamia or Oat milks which can be enjoyed in your tea, over your breakfast cereal and even in smoothies.
Dark green leafy vegetables and almonds are all great sources of calcium too, so include these in your meals and snacks. Calcium is great for kids as well, so sharing these with your grandkids will benefit them too!
In conclusion, don’t let the aging process get you down! Good nutrition can help you to live longer and to enjoy arguably the most rewarding years of your life.
Written by Vicki Fischer
Photography by Christian Bowen @chrishcush