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Good nutrition vital for healthy aging

March 17, 2012
Submitted by Ryan Wille, community health educator for HealthLink Littauer , For The Leader Herald

Good nutrition is vital to preventive health and healthy aging. As we age, our nutritional requirements change. We tend to need less caloric intake but need more calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. This change in nutritional needs can be a difficult adjustment to make and it is important that you gain advice from health care professionals. WebMD has provided 10 Questions to ask your doctor about nutrition and healthy aging.

1) How do I know if I'm getting all the nutrition I need?

Many Americans, especially older ones, aren't getting all the nutrition that they need for optimal health. Even people who are overweight fall short on the vitamins, minerals and nutrients they need. Many of the calories people consume have little nutritional value. Talk to your doctor about the signs of vitamin or mineral deficiencies.

2) Do any of the medications I use affect my appetite or how food tastes?

A range of medications can interfere with good nutrition. It is important to discuss what medications you are taking with your doctor.

3) Do any of the medications I'm taking get in the way of absorbing nutrients I need?

A variety of prescription drugs can interfere with the body's ability to absorb vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

4) I'm not very hungry when I know it's time to eat. Is that normal for someone my age?

There are many reasons why older individuals don't have a powerful appetite. These individuals are usually less active and their bodies require fewer calories. However, sudden loss of appetite also can be a sign of depression or other serious health problems.

5) Should I consider taking a multivitamin?

Experts disagree on whether older Americans should be routinely counseled to take a multivitamin. Many agree that the best way to get your nutrients is from food, not pills. Talk to your doctor before taking any pills.

6) What about other single vitamins or mineral supplements?

Some people may need to take an additional supplement of certain nutrients, such as people who need a vitamin D or calcium supplement. Talk to your doctor before taking any pills.

7) Should I cut back on salt in my diet?

If you have hypertension, and even if your blood pressure is at the high end of normal, cutting back on salt may be helpful. Recent evidence shows the less sodium you consume, the lower your risk.

8) How much alcohol is safe to drink?

Studies have shown moderate amounts of alcohol reduce the risk of heart disease. However, most doctors are reluctant to encourage people to drink because the risks for some can outweigh the benefits. Talk to your doctor about a safe level for you that maximizes benefits and minimizes risks.

9) Could I cut back on my medication by following a healthier lifestyle?

Many older people can cut back on blood pressure, cholesterol or other medication by eating a healthier diet and getting more exercise. Talk to your doctor about whether a healthier lifestyle could mean taking fewer pills.

10) Should I make an appointment with a registered dietician?

Doctors understand the importance of a healthy diet, but may not have the time to provide complete dietary counseling. If you have more questions than your doctor has time to answer, ask for a referral to a registered dietitian.

For more information, contact your health care provider, Littauer's Outpatient Nutritional Counseling at 773-5413, or HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120.

People can e-mail HealthLink Littauer at healthlink@nlh.org, visit its website at www.nlh.org, or visit its wellness center at 213 Harrison St. Ext. in Johnstown.

 
 

 

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