By: Elizabeth Somer, M.A.,R.D.
Unless you’re supplementing daily with vitamin D, it’s likely you are deficient and don’t even know it. Up to three in every four people tested are low in this vitamin. What’s the risk?
Until recently, vitamin D’s sole job was to support calcium absorption and deposition into bone, thus lowering osteoporosis risk. This role is now considered the tip of the nutritional iceberg.
Every cell in your body has receptors for vitamin D, which means every cell, tissue, organ, and system, from the top of your head to the tip of your toes, needs the vitamin. It’s no wonder research shows that vitamin D might aid the body in muscle weakness, gum disease, diabetes, insulin resistance, hearing and vision loss, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, hypertension and depression, among other health conditions. It also supports pregnancy outcome and reduces the incidence of falls by up to 60 percent in seniors, while a deficiency can mimic symptoms of fibromyalgia. Preliminary studies also show a possible link between low vitamin D intake and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease and more.
Continue reading “The One Vitamin You Are Low In”
Are the foods on your plate helping you stay healthy through the years? We know what foods are ‘good’ for us, but did you know that what’s on your plate today could affect the way you age?
A recent study, by DSM and Groningen University, looked at why some populations age healthier than others. The researchers found evidence that a lack of nutrients can have long-term health effects. The results of the study support what we already know about the importance of a balanced diet throughout our lives.
It’s not always easy to ensure we’re getting proper nutrition, particularly as we age and need fewer calories and our bodies may absorb less nutrients. To help you stay healthy, try following these five rules: Continue reading “5 tips to help you age healthier”
A recent study published in the New York Times found that exercise might increase the brain’s flexibility. Yet another reason in a long list supporting the health benefits of physical activity as we age. Not convinced? Here are our top 5 reasons why you need to prioritize exercise.
- Get out of your comfort zone: Trying something new, like a community Zumba class, or developing a new skillset, like boxing or rock-climbing, helps keep your brain stimulated. As you exercise your body, you’ll also be exercising your mind.
- Manage your weight: Another added benefit of exercise? Dropping excess pounds. Staying within a healthy weight range can help stave off a myriad of health conditions – like hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes.
- Maintain your healthy brain: Grow your brain along with your muscles – regular exercise can encourage the growth of new brain cells and connections. Overall physical health is closely linked to brain health, so a healthy body is key to a healthy brain.
- Keep your social life buzzing: Physical activity often goes hand in hand with group activities – aerobics class at the gym, dance lessons, weekly tai chi sessions in the part. Even walking dates with friends are a great way to stay active and stay connected.
- Show what you can do: When you started, you could barely jog to the mailbox. Now you can make it around the block without taking a break. Exercise shows us what we’re capable of – often beyond our own expectations. Setting, and reaching, new goals is a great way to stay motivated.
What’s your favorite benefit of exercising?
As the temperatures cool down (goodbye summer, see you next year!), the sun may be shining a little less brightly, but that doesn’t mean you should pack your shades away. Maintaining healthy eyes and vision is a year-round job.
5 ways to keep your eyes healthy throughout the year:
- Wear sunglasses: Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays can lead to vision issues, including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Look for sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of UVA and UVB radiation and that screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light. If you do winter sports or will be spending a lot of time outdoors, consider polarized lenses which offer additional protection from the sun’s glare.
- Hydrate: Keep dry eyes at bay by drinking lots of water. If you’re going to be losing water (i.e. sweating), add in additional water to replenish your body. Keep a refillable bottle of water nearby throughout the day to remind you to drink up.
- Wear protective eyewear: Don’t underestimate the potential for eye injury in everyday activities. Sharp tools, flying dust, harsh chemicals – all can be hazardous to your eye health. If you’re doing basic home repairs or intensive cleaning, don a pair of safety goggles. You can pick them up at many eyewear and sporting goods stores.
- Eat well: We shared Vitamins in Motion’s infographic on nutrition for eye health in our last post. In a nutshell, look for nutrient-packed fruits and veggies and healthy fats to keep your eyes bright, shiny, and healthy. Lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamins A, C and E and omega-3 fatty acids are eye-health superstars.
- Limit screen time: Today, screens are everywhere, not just on our desktop computer. Tapping out an email on your smartphone, watching a movie on your tablet – too much time in front of a screen can cause eyestrain. To prevent this, follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take your eyes off your computer and look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. If you can, take a quick walk during this time.
How do you keep your eyes healthy?
New research from the University of Texas, Dallas found activities that require a mentally demanding skill are likely to improve cognitive function versus less demanding activities
The study, published in the Psychological Science journal, looked at 221 adults, ages 60 to 90, who engaged in a particular type of activity for 15 hours a week over the course of three months.
Of the total participants, a portion were assigned to learn a new skill like digital photography or quilting, which required active engagement and tapped working memory, long-term memory and other high-level cognitive processes. Another group of participants were instructed to do activities that were more familiar such as listening to classical music and completing word puzzles. To account for possible influence of social contact, remaining participants were assigned to a social group that included social interactions, field trips and entertainment.
The researchers found that the adults who were productively engaged in learning new skills showed improvements in memory compared to those who engaged in social activities or non-demanding mental activities at home.
Lead researcher Denise Park says, “It seems it is not enough just to get out and do something – it is important to get out and do something that is unfamiliar and mentally challenging and that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially.”
What do you do to get out of your comfort zone and try something new?
There is less than a week to get your nominations in for the “Beautiful Minds: Finding Your Lifelong Potential” photo essay contest!
The National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA) has partnered with life’sDHA™ to seek nominations at beautiful-minds.com for U.S. adults 55 and over who are doing beautiful things with their minds without letting age be a barrier.
Ten individuals will be selected to be featured in a national photo exhibit, “Beautiful Minds: Finding Your Lifelong Potential,” which will travel to multiple cities as part of an educational campaign designed to inspire Americans to maintain better brain health. Submissions will be accepted through April 15.
Launched in 2010, the “Beautiful Minds” campaign celebrates individuals who are keeping their minds beautiful throughout life, and raises awareness of the actions people can take to maintain one of the most vital parts of the body – the brain.
Entries may be submitted by anyone 55 and over, or by anyone who knows someone 55 and over, who has done extraordinarily beautiful things with his or her mind in the second stage of life. Examples include committing to a healthy lifestyle; maintaining a healthy diet; engaging in intellectual or brain power activities on a daily basis; taking measures to overcome serious illness through mind, body, spirit and nutrition; participating in high-impact physical activities such as running marathons; having a strong commitment to social well-being, or having volunteered to help or educate others.
Visit beautiful-minds.com to nominate someone today!
Creative expression is vital for healthy aging. Research shows that mental activity stimulated by the arts can be especially beneficial to people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA) aims to meet the developmental needs of adults through creative engagement, sense memory and self-expression. According to the NCCA, as people grow older, the number of people with cognitive disabilities increases and more people will be diagnosed with brain and memory-related illnesses. Art programs, including music, dance, language arts, sculpting, among many other programs help create opportunities for people with cognitive disabilities.
Is there a local art program you are involved with? If so, share it here.
To find an arts program in your community, visit the NCCA website at www.creativeaging.org.