Specific Food Pyramid Supports Senior Nutrition Needs
Find key nutrients in healthful foods and supplements
The pyramid emphasizes eating a variety of deeply colored fruits and vegetables such as carrots, spinach, and peppers
If vitality and wellness is your goal in your 70s and beyond, then proper nutrition is one of your best allies. As reported in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers at Tufts University have created a senior-specific version of the US Department of Agriculture's food pyramid, making it easier than ever to achieve your nutritional needs.
The Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults graphically highlights the importance of some easy-to-miss nutrients, helping seniors better understand their complex nutritional needs by pointing out several "potential shortfall nutrients" for people over 70. A flag at the top of the pyramid emphasizes that extra calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 might be needed.
Not-to-miss nutrientsWhile obtaining proper nutrition through a well-balanced, whole-food diet is preferable, making sure you get everything you need is also important. If you suspect you're not covering all the bases, a good multivitamin or specific supplement may be a good option:
For safety's sake, total your intake
It is important to consider that while your diet may lack many nutrients, it may be too plentiful in others. With fortification of foods and widespread use of multivitamin preparations, some seniors may get too much folic acid, which can mask the laboratory diagnosis of vitamin B12 deficiency, potentially leading to neurological damage.
Ask your doctor about potential interactions
Many seniors take medications that may be impacted--positively or negatively--by adding supplements to the mix. If this is true for you, look for a healthcare practitioner knowledgeable in nutritional medicine to help you learn about potential drug-nutrient interactions and supplement recommendations that may best support your health.
(J Nutr 2008;138:5-11)
Kimberly Beauchamp, ND, earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Rhode Island and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA. She cofounded South County Naturopaths in Wakefield, RI. Dr. Beauchamp practices as a birth doula and lectures on topics including whole-foods nutrition, detoxification, and women's health.