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What to Expect in Your 70s and Beyond

The good and bad. Plus advice on feeling happy, sexy and pain-free

Motivate Your Metabolism

The Good News: While metabolism typically slows up to 5 percent per decade, that doesn't mean you have to gain weight in your 70s. Just stay active and cut calories if needed, says Alice Lichtenstein, D.Sc., director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging.

The Not-So-Good News: In your 70s you may secrete less hydrochloric acid, which decreases the availability of vitamin B12, says Lichtenstein. Ask your doctor if you need a B12 supplement (optimal dose: 2.4 mcg daily).

What's Up With That? As you age, your ability to produce vitamin D in response to sunlight gradually decreases. Your doctor may recommend a vitamin D supplement — after age 70, you need 800 IU of vitamin D every day, as well as 1,200 mg daily of calcium.

What's Ahead: The sensations of hunger and thirst can decrease with age, often leading to dehydration and malnutrition. Plan to eat several small meals throughout the day, and consume at least 6 cups of liquid.

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Your response to vaccines decreases with age, leaving you even more vulnerable to illnesses like flu and pneumonia. — Photo by Craig Cutler

Ramp Up Your Immunity

The Good News: Allergies, which result from an overreactive immune system, are likely a thing of the past, because your immune system isn't as sensitive.

The Not-So-Good News: That less-aggressive immune response means you're more susceptible to getting sick. Chronic inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, diabetes and arthritis, makes it even harder for the body to mount an effective immune response. So it's important to shed excess pounds, eat a good diet and exercise.

What's Up With That? Your response to vaccines decreases with age, leaving you even more vulnerable to illnesses like flu and pneumonia. After 65 you're eligible to get a higher-dose flu vaccine. A new study also suggests you can boost the effectiveness of your vaccines by getting at least seven hours of sleep a night.

What's Ahead: Rates of cancer rise with age but then level off around 85, so if you've gotten that far cancer-free, you may reach a very old age.

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