In an ideal world you would get all of your nutrients from fruits, vegetables and other unprocessed whole foods. But as you enter your 50s, hormonal changes make hitting your target quotas for certain vitamins and minerals increasingly difficult. While science can't re-create everything nature has perfectly packed into whole foods, supplementing your diet with these key nutrients should help you stay on top of your game.
In Your 50s
Vitamin D and calcium: Bone loss accelerates during your 50s, especially among women. "Since estrogen helps maintain bone mass, women become more vulnerable to bone loss after menopause," says Diane McKay, a nutrition researcher at Boston's Tufts University. Recommended dose: 600 international units of vitamin D plus 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium for men and 1,200 mg for women, split into two daily doses.
Good food sources: Tuna, mackerel, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks are rich in vitamin D. To boost your calcium intake eat cheese, yogurt, milk, figs
Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3s help prevent irregular heartbeats, reduce plaque buildup in the arteries, inhibit inflammation and keep blood sugar levels in check. "Omega-3s are important for reducing inflammation wherever it comes up, whether as heart disease, cancer or Alzheimer's," says Christine Gerbstadt, M.D., author of Doctor's Detox Diet. Recommended dose: 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA omega-3s per day.
Good food sources: Flaxseed oil, salmon, walnuts, edamame
Probiotics: The older you are, the more vulnerable your system is to unhealthy bacteria. "If your gut isn't healthy, your body can't absorb nutrients, so it doesn't matter what supplements you take," says nutritionist Jonny Bowden, author of The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. Probiotics help by reintroducing good bacteria. Recommended dose: 1 billion to 10 billion CFUs a few days a week.
Good food sources: Yogurt, kefir, kimchi, dark chocolate