Nutrition for Life Stages

March 07, 2013

Nutritional needs vary throughout our lives – find out what you need to focus on depending on your age

Nutritional needs vary throughout our lives, but at all stages we should focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and well sourced lean meats and fish for optimal nutritional value, taste and health. SupermarketGuru wanted to point out a few important nutrients needed in different stages of life. Find out what you need here.

In Your 20s
Protein helps keep you full and provides the building blocks so you can make and keep calorie-burning muscle. Depending on how active you are, you need 60 to 70 grams of protein per day, if not more. Great sources include well-sourced lean meats, eggs, fish, nuts and seeds, tofu, beans and probiotic rich dairy foods.

Keep your heart and muscles functioning with potassium. Eating at least two cups of fruit, an apple, some blueberries and an orange, and two and a half cups of veggies daily, a salad with avocado, celery and Brussels sprouts, provides plenty of potassium.

Omega-3 fats, yes omega-3s are critical during all life stages, they can help boost the level of serotonin, the feel-good chemical in your brain. Salmon, herring, and mackerel are the best source, but you can also get your fill from walnuts, freshly ground flaxseed, and chia seeds.

In Your 30s & 40s
Although it’s necessary to eat healthfully during all life stages, our 30 and 40s are when it’s most critical to make healthy choices more often than not.

Folate. Not only is it necessary for supporting a healthy pregnancy (if you are a woman!), but it also helps your body make new cells and may help reduce the risk of heart disease. Eating foods such as leafy greens (which also contain bone building calcium), chickpeas, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, avocados, and fortified whole grains will ensure you get your fill of folate.

Phytonutrients or plant nutrients are potent antioxidants that can help slow the aging process, keep our heart healthy, and prevent changes in DNA. Choose vibrantly colored foods for the most antioxidant/ phytonutrient punch! Chocolate, coffee, and red wine are also rich in phytonutrients.

Feeling fatigued? Iron is what you need. Foods rich in iron include leafy greens, clams, beef, liver, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, poultry, breakfast cereal and more.

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, keeps your immune system strong, protects against certain cancers, and even can prevent hearing loss. Few foods contain D – sardines, some mushrooms, liver and fortified foods like milk and orange juice. Speak with your medical doctor about supplementing with vitamin D.

Fiber is good for all of us, but it can help with bloating, help maintain regularity, help lower the risk for heart disease, control weight and prevent type 2 diabetes. Whole grain breads and cereals; beans and peas; fruits and vegetables all provide fiber.

In Your 50s, 60s and beyond!
Choosing foods that are nutrient dense is essential at this stage of your life. Choose foods that provide the most nutritional bang for the calories – think veggies!

Almonds contain vitamin E, zinc, and magnesium all essential for bone density. Magnesium is one of the nutrients American’s don’t consume enough of – and it’s involved in hundreds of processes in our body, including relaxation! Almonds are a great source.

Canned Tomatoes, yes, one of SupermarketGuru’s favorite foods! Research shows that lycopene, the potent antioxidant found in tomatoes, can decrease the risk of getting several forms of cancer. And canned tomatoes, because they are cooked, provide significantly more lycopene than fresh tomatoes.

Vitamin B12 is not to be forgotten! Many people over 50 do not get enough. Good sources are fortified cereal, lean meat and some fish and seafood, although as we age our ability to extract this critical nutrient from food decreases. Ask your doctor about B12.

Clearly there are many more foods and nutrients for each life stage that we need to think about. Generally choosing a balanced and varied diet, with plenty of foods cooked from scratch and carefully choosing ingredients will provide the basics for a well nourished and healthy life.