Feeling fatigued, forgetful, or achy? Don’t automatically chalk it up to getting older. These easy fixes may turn back the clock.
By Norine Dworkin-McDaniel, Prevention
What if the fountain of youth were in your own kitchen? While we’ve come to expect that certain physical and mental changes are an inevitable part of getting older, the fact is that the foods we eat—or don’t—may speed those processes along, aging us before our time. The reason is simple. “We eat too many processed foods,” says David Katz, MD, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center. “They’re often high in calories and low in nutrients such as vitamin B12 and omega-3s, so we end up with islands of deficiencies in a sea of excess.” These inadequacies can result in symptoms we tend to assume are due to aging, such as the four below. Work with your doctor to determine whether adjusting your diet or adding a supplement can help you look—and feel—younger.
You Have Less Energy
You May Need More: Vitamin B12
Found only in foods that are derived from animals, this nutrient helps regulate your metabolism and energy production and is key to maintaining a healthy brain and nervous system. “Fatigue is a classic sign of B12 deficiency,” says Danine Fruge, MD, associate medical director of the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa in Miami. Chewing a lot of antacids to relieve heartburn can also lead to B12 deficiency, because antacids interfere with B12 absorption.
How Your Doctor Knows: Your GP will ask about what you eat, whether you’re getting enough sleep, and the medications you take. If you don’t eat many (or any) dairy foods or take supplements containing B12, you sleep 7 to 8 hours each night, and you’re physically active, odds are good that your low energy is due to a B12 deficiency.
Food Fix: Have two servings of nonfat dairy foods, such as fat-free milk or nonfat yogurt.
Supplement Solution: Take 500 to 1,000 mcg of vitamin B12 in tablet form every day to raise and maintain your B12 levels.