01/30/2014 10:50 am ET

7 Nutrients You Need After Turning 50

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As you get older, it’s important to make small changes to your diet to protect your long-term health. Here are seven nutrients to zero in on after turning 50.

Vitamin D
Why you need it: Scientific journals have been bursting at the seams in recent years with new research about the importance of vitamin D, and according the data, the vast majority of women aren’t getting enough. One recent study found that adults with the lowest blood vitamin D levels were about twice as likely to die from any cause compared to those with the highest levels. Other studies have linked adequate intakes to lower rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, depression, certain cancers, and brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. This key nutrient is also tied to enhanced immunity, muscle functioning, and injury prevention (pretty impressive, huh?). Vitamin D’s nickname is the “sunshine vitamin” because exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays triggers its production in the body, but you can’t rely on the sun as your sole source. Your location, cloud cover, smog, time of day and year, and sunscreen use all affect your UV exposure and vitamin D production.

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