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Categories > Diet and Nutrition > Vitamins, minerals and herbs

Do you have a diet gap?

Eating smart is important at any age, but it’s particularly vital for people over age 50 who are trying to ward off heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s. Getting proper nutrition, however, may be difficult for older adults who have health conditions that make preparing or enjoying healthy foods a challenge.

Even healthy diets sometimes lack adequate amounts of certain vitamins or minerals. It’s always best to get what you need from foods, but if you can’t close your diet gap, ask your healthcare provider to recommend a multivitamin or other supplement designed for your age and gender.

Check the chart below to make sure you’re getting enough of these essential nutrients.

NutrientWhy you need itHow much you need each dayWhere to find it
Vitamin Eprotects cells from damage, boosts the immune system and may reduce cataract risk15 mg of the alpha-tocopherol form of vitamin E (vitamin E has eight forms—only this kind is used by the body)almonds and other nuts, vegetable oils, seeds, wheat germ and spinach
Calciumbuilds strong bones and protects against bone loss1,200 mgdairy foods like milk, yogurt and cheese and calcium-fortified orange juice and soy milk (choose low fat or fat free whenever possible)
Vitamin Dhelps the body absorb calcium from foods400 IU (600 IU if you’re over 70)dairy foods and fortified orange juice
Zinchelps heal wounds, boosts the immune system and aids in healthy cell growth8 mg (women) 11 mg (men)meat and seafood are the best sources; also whole-grain breads, wheat germ and black- eyed peas
Folate (also known as folic acid)helps the body make new cells400 mcgdark green, leafy vegetables, dried beans, oranges, fortified cereals, pasta and bread