Aging is not something to fear. Aging is simply a rite of passage. Instead of dreading it as the end to youth and vitality, think of it as a new stage in life: being more self-focused and intentional about your immune system wellness and self-care than ever…with the help of certain must have nutrients, like vitamin D and superfoods!
After 50, it’s time to slow down and take care of ourselves. We don’t have to lose our vitality or vibrancy— in fact, we can preserve much of it if we change perspective and do the right things for our health. While exercise and lifestyle changes may help, nutrients and superfoods are foundational. Here are some of the best essential nutrients and superfoods for after 50 so you can enjoy your golden years in top form.
Calcium becomes more and more of a big deal as we age. Naturally, we begin to lose bone density getting older (even when we’re as young as 50) and when that happens, it’s time to up the calcium, among other nutrients.
Calcium daily intake recommended for the very elderly can be as high as 1200 mg per day! The farther you reach past age 50, the better for your health it may be to keep this nutrient goal in mind, and eventually work your way up to it. A calcium supplement can of course help, though eating plenty of healthy, sustainable, and ethical dairy products may help (they are also more calcium rich).
If you’re on a plant-based diet, foods like seeds, legumes, nuts, quinoa, soy, and tofu are full of calcium.
Together with calcium, vitamin D is another must have nutrient as you get past 50. Vitamin D is good for boosting the uptake of calcium and supports the remineralization of bones and teeth— it is essential for bone health all around, and at any age! On the other hand, Vitamin D3 deficiency can cause bone loss.
It also has an added benefit for the immune system, especially in the winter, which is also important as you age. Strong immunity helps fight the effects of aging and prevents bouts of sickness.
The #1 source of vitamin D? Sunlight! It’s just as important to get outdoors to get your vitamin D as it was when you were young— and may be even more important. With roughly 15 minutes of sun exposure a day, you can get your full dose of vitamin D.
On cloudy days or during the winter time, you can try sun lamps or vitamin D-rich superfoods like salmon, supplements like cod liver oil, or if you’re going fully plant-based, try culinary mushrooms (especially shiitake or lion’s mane, though most of them are great).
You gotta have good vitamin C! That goes for people at any age. Vitamin C is good for the immune system, skin health, nutrient absorption, and for healthy tissues. This vitamin steps up and helps along with what vitamin D and calcium do: preserving the health of teeth and bones, which is essential for health after 50.
You also need vitamin C to help the body produce collagen, which is famous for naturally reducing the effects of aging. Collagen is a powerful protein that keeps up the youthful, plump appearance of young skin and prevents wrinkles— and it can’t be produced in the body without enough vitamin C.
Find Vitamin C in citrus, leafy greens, berries, and to some extent in almost all fruits and vegetables – even garlic and onions.
We need to eat protein every day, as it is a powerful energy-fueling macronutrient. But it’s not common that we think about why protein is important when you get past age 50— because it’s a pretty big deal in this later stage of life!
Why? Because of protein amino acids! Amino acids are nutrient chains found in certain proteins, and they can be huge for people after 50 for certain aspects of wellness. Again, why? Because, like vitamin D and calcium for bone loss, these protein chains are protective against muscle loss that happens with age.
The most hard-hitting amino acid of all may be leucine, which is found in whey protein powders and supplements. But you can also find it in foods like spirulina, seeds, eggs, beans, and lentils in addition to a supplement.
Besides focusing on foods to boost the immune system— or vitamins to prevent bone or muscle loss— it’s important not to forget about gut health. On that note, what good are any of these extra nutrients with age, if your gut isn’t able to digest or absorb them properly?
Studies show that as you get older and closer to age 60, the amount of digestive enzymes your body produces goes down. Luckily, you can take supplement enzymes like pancreatin, protease, lactase, and more to boost digestion and nutrient uptake— or take papain or bromelain, digestive enzymes naturally found in papaya and pineapple (or you could just eat more of these fruits, which are high in vitamin C, too).
It doesn’t hurt to boost your uptake of probiotics, either!
Vitamin B6 is one of the most overlooked vitamins that boost the immune system. If you’re wondering: which vitamin B is folic acid? Vitamin B6 would be the one, which also goes by the name “folate,” its natural form found in foods.
Vitamin B6 in food or supplements can help boost the immune system and make it function more effectively, something you shouldn’t overlook with age, and as we become more and more vulnerable to illness. Great sources for vitamin B6 include whole grains and legumes, which are some of the best: like beans, lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, amaranth, and bulgur plus vegetables like onions, garlic, and potatoes.
Let’s not forget brain health! At first glance, nootropic may seem like a big and complicated word. It’s simply another name for a category of superfoods that are incredible for brain function and the nerves.
Part of how they work is that they are anti inflammatory natural foods, great at fighting inflammation in the brain and neurons. In turn this can boost cognitive function, memory, learning, mental energy, and even reduce the effects of dementia and forgetfulness…or even prevent neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s!
Classic nootropics are superfoods or adaptogenic mushrooms like lion’s mane, cordyceps, and chaga mushroom. Some supplement plants are nootropic brain boosters too however, including bacopa, Chinese clubmoss, and more.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Speaking of inflammation: as we age, chronic inflammation (or “oxidation”) can set in all over the body, and not just in the brain and nerves. It’s important to make sure you’re getting enough foods, nutrients, and antioxidants that can fight it everywhere else, and one of the best antioxidant supplements for this are omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3’s are basically healthy fats. But a lot of us don’t get enough of these, at any age! Instead, our diets tend to be higher in other types of fats, which are inflammation causing foods that raise heart disease and stroke risk— and coupled with this, the risk only gets greater the farther past 50 we get. Omega 3’s, on the other hand, fight inflammation and even boost heart health and the immune system.