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Are you getting enough of what you need?

August 31, 2006

Calcium - To help combat osteoporosis, calcium needs increase as people age. People 51 years old and older need 1,200 milligrams a day. Milk is a common source, and it also is found in seaweed, nuts and seeds, beans, broccoli and fortified products such as orange juice and soy milk.

Potassium - 4,700 milligrams of potassium is needed a day. Colorful fruits and vegetables will help to meet that.

Protein - Some older people are not getting enough protein and are more at risk for having a protein deficiency, possibly because some have difficulty chewing meat.

Five ounces of protein a day is recommended. A piece of meat the size of a deck of cards is about 3 ounces.

Legumes are a vegetarian option.

Sodium - Older people should eat less sodium - no more than 1,500 milligrams a day. Avoiding processed foods is a good way to reduce sodium. For example, rather than eating prepackaged pasta or oatmeal mixes, choose the purer boxed types. Make extra and refrigerate the leftovers for convenience.

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Vitamin A - Linked to good eyesight, Vitamin A is found in carrots and other yellow and orange vegetables such as peaches and apricots as well as deep green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and kale. However, one should be sure not to take too much Vitamin A and supplements are not recommended.

Vitamin B12 - As many as 40 percent of older people have a B12 vitamin deficiency, in part because it is harder for older people to absorb the vitamin. For that reason it's recommended that people obtain B12 from fortified sources, including breakfast cereals. It is found in dairy products, meat and eggs.

Vitamin C - Commonly associated with citrus fruits, Vitamin C can lower the risk of cancer, while a deficiency can cause memory loss. Sources of Vitamin C include orange juice, strawberries and other fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin D - People 51 to 70 years old need 10 micrograms of Vitamin D a day, while those over 70 need 15 micrograms a day. Milk contains about 2.5 micrograms per serving. Canned tuna contains 3.4 micrograms per 3-ounce serving, while baked herring has 44.4 micrograms and baked salmon has 6 micrograms.

Sunshine is another Vitamin D source and people should try to expose themselves to sunlight (even through a window) for 20 to 30 minutes two or three times a week.

Water - Considered a nutrient, many find that their thirst sensation diminishes as they age. As a result, they face a higher risk of dehydration. Six to eight cups (8-ounce servings) a day are recommended of fluids, preferably water.

- Information provided by licensed nutritionists and registered dietitians Lisa McCoy and Cynthia Held

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