Thursday, Jun. 11, 2009

Diet and Nutrition

A lifetime of healthy eating pays off with overall well-being in late adulthood. But beyond a balanced and varied diet of whole grains, lean proteins and fruits and vegetables, vitamin supplementation becomes increasingly important in older age as the body's ability to absorb vital nutrients from food diminishes. That's particularly true with vitamin B12, says Leipzig, which is found in beef, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products. For older adults, "B12 is something that you absorb better in a pill form," Leipzig says. She also strongly recommends calcium and vitamin D supplements. In the U.S., "there is basically an epidemic at this point of vitamin D deficiency," she says. Meanwhile, a growing body of evidence highlights the benefits of getting enough: vitamin D helps prevent rickets in children and severe bone loss in adults and may reduce the risk of multiple sclerosis, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and flu.