In last week’s column Anti-Aging: Nutrition, part 1: Daily Food and Drink I gave you the recommendations on macronutrients (carbs, protein and fats) from the
- Nutrition for Older Adults published by the US National Library of Medicine
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
That column gave the recommended daily amounts of vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, protein and oils. These should provide three types of macronutrients:
- Carbohydrates 45 – 65% of total calories
- Protein 10 – 35% of total calories
- Oils 20 – 35% of total calories
This week’s column discusses micronutrients: vitamins and minerals. The column is divided into three sections:
I. The most important: Why vitamins and minerals are important, the recommended amounts by gender of four key ones after age 50, electrolytes, how to get information about sources of vitamins and minerals and what you should know about supplements in general.
II. Detailed information: A table of recommended amounts by gender of all the other important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
III. Coach Hughes’ related eBooks.
The material in this two-part column applies to all cyclists. The material comes from my research for a new eBook on Cycling in Your 70s, 80s and Beyond.
Here are the essentials you need to know.
Why are vitamins and minerals important?
Researchers studied Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and All-Cause Mortality. The study looked at 71,706 participants (38,221 men and 33,485 women) aged 45-83 for 13 years and concluded, “In comparison with 5 servings of fruit and vegetables [a day], a lower consumption was progressively associated with shorter survival and higher mortality rates. Those who never consumed fruit and vegetables lived 3 years shorter and had a 53% higher mortality rate than did those who consumed 5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day. … Those who never consumed fruit lived 19 months shorter than did those who ate one severing. Participants who consumed 3 servings lived 32 months longer than did those who never consumed vegetables.”
Eating a variety of healthy foods is the best way to get your micronutrients. Many of the vitamins and minerals listed below are in fruit and vegetables. However, some people may not get enough vitamins and minerals from their daily diet. When that’s the case, their doctors may recommend a dietary supplement to provide missing nutrients. Based on blood tests my doctor recommends I take vitamins B-3, B-12, omega-3 fatty acids fish oil, glucosamine sulfate and a multivitamin-minerals tablet.
Four key vitamins and minerals over age 50
Note: Calcium and vitamin D have upper limits.
|Vitamin / mineral||Men||Women||Sources|
|Calcium Calcium works with vitamin D to keep bones strong at all ages. These are special recommendations for older people who are at risk for bone loss.||Age 51 to 70 need 1,000 mg (milligrams) and 1,200 mg after 70, Not more than 2,000 mg a day at any age.||1,200 mg (milligrams) per day. Not more than 2,000 mg a day at any age.||Milk and other dairy, some forms of tofu, dark-green leafy vegetables, soybeans, canned sardines and salmon with bones, and calcium-fortified foods.|
|Vitamin D||Men and women age 51 to 70 at least 15 mcg (600 IU) per day and 20 mcg (800 IU) over age 70. Not more than 4,000 IU each day at any age.||Men and women age 51 to 70 at least 15 mcg (600 IU) per day and 20 mcg (800 IU) over age 70. Not more than 4,000 IU each day at any age.||Fatty fish, fish liver oils, fortified milk and milk products, and fortified cereals. Your body also makes vitamin D from exposure to the sun.|
|Vitamin B6 This vitamin is needed to form red blood cells||1.7 mg each day.||1.5 mg each day.||Richest sources include fish, beef liver, potatoes and other starchy vegetables, and fruit (other than citrus).|
|Vitamin B12: This vitamin helps keep your red blood cells and nerves healthy.||Men and women 2.4 mcg (micrograms) each day.||Men and women 2.4 mcg (micrograms) each day.||Meat, fish, poultry, milk, and fortified breakfast cereals. Some people over 50 have trouble absorbing the vitamin B12 foods. They may need to take B12 supplements and eat foods fortified with B12. If you take medicine for acid reflux, you might need a different form. Ask your health provider.|
As cyclist you’re concerned that you replace the electrolytes lost in sweat. There are many electrolyte replacement products with multiple minerals on the market. If you eat a healthy diet you’ll get more than enough of all the minerals you need except salt! And you probably won’t even need salt unless you are sweating heavily for a number of hours.
|Electrolyte||Concentration / Liter (quart)||Daily Recommended Intake (DRI)||Daily Recommended for Athletes|
|Sodium||800 mg||2,300 mg||>2,300 mg up to 10 g to match sweat losses. If you have high blood pressure talk to your doctor first.|
|Chloride||1,065 mg||3,000 mg||>3,000 mg to match sweat losses|
|Potassium||115 mg||Males 3,400 mg Females 2,600 mg||More with heavy sweat losses|
|Calcium||40 mg||Males 1,000 mg (1,200 mg if over 70) Females 1,200 mg||1,300 – 1,500 mg|
|Magnesium||19 mg||Males 420 mg Females 320 mg||Males 400 – 450 mg Females 350 mg|
(Benardot, Dan, PhD, RD. (2006). Advanced Sports Nutrition, 2nd ed. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL.)
Information about sources of vitamins and minerals
Here’s how you can learn exactly what a specific food contains (or doesn’t).
- Food labels. Reading labels is an easy way to see what macro- and micronutrients a product contains. All processed foods are required to have a nutrition label that gives a serving size for which the amounts of nutrients are listed. Pay attention to this – your serving may be larger or smaller. The label lists:
- Macronutrients: total calories, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, total sugars, added sugars and protein.
- Micronutrients: sodium for all products and if present other vitamins and minerals, e.g., potassium, vitamin D, calcium and iron.
- Calorie King is an excellent on-line resource providing the same information for specific foods including both unprocessed and processed foods by brand.
Supplements are intended to supplement good nutrition, not to substitute for a healthy diet.
- We’re each an experiment of one. One or more of the recommendations may not be right for you.
- Before taking any supplement talk to your health care provider.
- Choose brands that your doctor, dietitian, or pharmacist recommend. Don’t buy dietary supplements with ingredients you don’t need.
- Supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
- Look for the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) verified mark. USP verifies the identity, quality, strength, and purity of supplements.
- Information on some dietary supplements is available on MedlinePlus.
- Most supplements have limited evidence of any benefit. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
I wrote a column about The Importance of Evaluating Products Yourself.
Here are the important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants over age 50. None of these vitamins and minerals is recommended in large quantities and there are upper limits for some vitamins and minerals.
- mg – milligram (a milligram is one thousandth of a gram)
- mcg – microgram (a microgram is one millionth of a gram)
- IU – international unit (conversion of milligrams and micrograms into IU depends on the type of vitamin or drug)
|Vitamin / mineral||Men||Women||Sources|
|Magnesium||420 mg each day.||320 mg each day.||Foods containing dietary fiber, such as green leafy vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts and seeds. Breakfast cereals and other fortified foods often have added magnesium.|
|Potassium||3,400 mg each day.||2,600 mg each day||Fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy foods, especially dried apricots, lentils, and potatoes. Also milk, coffee, tea, and other nonalcoholic beverages.|
|Sodium||Reduce intake to 2,300 mg each (about 1 teaspoon of salt) including sodium in manufactured foods. If high blood pressure or prehypertension reduce intake to 1,500 mg per day (2/3 teaspoon of salt)||Reduce intake to 2,300 mg each (about 1 teaspoon of salt) including sodium in manufactured foods. If high blood pressure or prehypertension reduce intake to 1,500 mg per day (2/3 teaspoon of salt)||Read product labels. Avoid processed foods high in sodium by preparing meals at home.|
|Vitamin A||900 mcg RAE each day||700 mcg RAE each day||Eggs, milk and also vegetables and fruits, like carrots and mangoes.|
|Vitamin C||75 mg each day.||90 mg each day||Fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits, tomatoes, and potatoes.|
|Vitamin E||Men and women 15 mg each day.||Men and women 15 mg each day.||Nuts like peanuts and almonds and vegetable oils. Also in green vegetables, like broccoli and spinach.|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||1.2 mg each day.||1.1 mg each day.||Meat – especially pork – and fish. Also in whole grains and some fortified breads, cereals, and pastas.|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||1.3 mg each day.||1.1 mg each day.||Eggs and organ meat, such as liver and kidneys, and lean meat. Also in green vegetables, like asparagus and broccoli.|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||16 mg each day.||14 mg each day.||Some types of nuts, legumes, and grains. Also in poultry, beef, and fish.|
|Vitamin K||120 mg each day.||90 mg each day.||Green leafy vegetables, like spinach and kale and in some fruits, such as blueberries and figs. Also in cheese, eggs, and different meats.|
|Folate||400 mcg DFE each day.||400 mcg DFE each day.||Vegetables and fruit, such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, spinach, and oranges. Also in nuts, beans, and peas.|
Information from Vitamins and Minerals for Older Adults published by the National Institute on Aging.
Antioxidants in food might help protect you from some diseases. You should include these common antioxidants your diet:
- Beta-carotene: Found in fruits and vegetables that are either dark green or dark orange.
- Selenium: Found in seafood, liver, meat, and grains.
- Vitamin C: Found in citrus fruits, peppers, tomatoes, and berries.
- Vitamin E: Found in wheat germ, nuts, and sesame seeds; and canola, olive, and peanut oils
Research suggests large doses of supplements with antioxidants will not prevent chronic diseases like heart disease or diabetes. Some studies have shown large doses of some antioxidants could be harmful. Check with your doctor before taking a dietary supplement.
Information from Dietary Supplements for Older Adults published by the National Institute on Aging.
For more information here’s an article from the National Institute on Aging about Smart Food Choices for Healthy Aging.
My eBook Healthy Nutrition Past 50 covers:
- The key role of carbohydrates in providing the energy you need.
- The role of protein, how much you need and nourishing protein choices.
- The important role of fat in your diet, and healthy choices to get that needed fat.
- The principal vitamins and minerals you need.
Eating and Drinking Like the Pros I researched what riders in the pro peloton eat before, during and after a race. The findings hold lessons for all cyclists. We all require energy during a ride and replenishment of lost minerals and nutrients after we ride. We can customize their diets to our own needs. The eBook includes a dozen recipes for homemade drinks, gels and bars that are as nutritional as commercial products, often tastier and much cheaper. The 15-page Eating and Drinking Like the Pros is $4.99.
My eBook Anti-Aging: 12 Ways You Can Slow the Aging Process includes chapters on how to meet the American College of Sports Medicine’s recommendations on aerobic, high intensity aerobic, strength training, weight-bearing, balance and flexibility exercises. I include sample weeks and months for different types and amounts of exercise. I give you plans to build up to 100 km and 100 mile rides. I include a plan to increase over two years your annual riding from around 4,000 miles (6,500 km) to over 5,000 miles (8,000 km) a year. You can easily modify the plans for different annual amounts of riding. I discuss the importance of recovery and how to gauge if you are getting enough recovery. I combine the different kinds of training into programs that balance training and recovery. The 106-page Anti-Aging: 12 Ways You Can Slow the Aging Process is $14.99.
Coach John Hughes earned coaching certifications from USA Cycling and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. John’s cycling career includes course records in the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200-km randonnée and the Furnace Creek 508, a Race Across AMerica (RAAM) qualifier. He has ridden solo RAAM twice and is a 5-time finisher of the 1200-km Paris-Brest-Paris. He has written over 40 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training and nutrition, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach John Hughes. Click to read John’s full bio.