Nutritional Needs From Fifty to Sixty-Five

Some people love their work and want to continue for as long as possible. Others look forward to the freedom of retirement after many years of work. Whatever the aim, many people in their fifties begin to worry about being fit enough to achieve it. There is growing evidence that many if the diseases and discomforts of old age may be the result of nutritional deficiencies. Although we should probably begin to eat for a healthy old age in our twenties, it is never too late to start.

Staying healthy

We have all met 60-year-olds who seem old, and sprightly 90-year-olds, who seem young. To some extent, of course, this depends on the genes that we have inherited, but getting older is also a state of mind. It is important to have interests outside regular exercise.

Basic dietary needs do not suddenly change from the balanced diet needed in adult life. However, energy levels gradually decline and fewer calories are needed. Because of this, you should make every calorie count by avoiding 'empty' calories like white sugar that contain no vitamins or minerals.


This bone condition is more common in women. Preventive action such as building and maintaining strong bones can help to prevent fractures in later life.

Are food supplements needed?

A good diet should supply all the necessary nutrients, but you may wish to take a well- balanced multi-mineral and vitamin supplement anyway. To avoid dietary imbalance, mineral and vitamin supplements should not be taken in large doses, except with professional guidance.

The menopause

Some women hardly notice their menopause, but for many the cessation of their periods is accompanied by irritability, memory lapses and loss of purpose. Physically, hot flushes, sleep disturbance, weight gain and loss of sex drive can also cause considerable distress.

Action plan for the menopause

Many women, in consultation with their doctors, find that HRT is the ideal approach to menopause. If you do take it you should follow the dietary advice given for the birth-control pill.

Unfortunately, if you are one of the 40-85 per cent of women who would have developed hot flushes, HRT only postpones these symptoms. Currently, there is great interest in relieving menopausal symptoms with the many plants that contain oestrogen-like substances and natural progesterone, but this approach needs further scientific evaluation. Remember that herbs can be very powerful and you should seek professional advice before taking them.
Continue to eat the best possible diet so that you are not battling against nutritional deficiencies.

  • For hot flushes consider taking VITAMIN E AND SELENIUM (but see individual sections for cautions). They seem to work together to control the problems of temperature regulation that occur with decreased output of female hormones. BORON may also help and may protect against osteoporosis. VITAMINS C AND P strengthen the blood vessel and capillary walls and can reduce flushing. Regular exercise, including an active sex life, helps to mobilize some of the oestrogen that is stored in fatty tissues. Try to avoid large meals, alcohol and caffeine as they tend to dilate the small blood vessels in the skin.
  • For insomnia, MAGNESIUM AND CALCIUM at bedtime can be helpful, as can sedative herbs taken as teas (such as chamomilla, limeflower or fennel), or in tablet form. Regular outdoor exercise may improve sleep and strengthen the bones.
  • For vaginal dryness, local application of VITAMIN E can help. It can be obtained by puncturing a vitamin E capsule and squeezing out the contents. If the lining of the vagina has become cracked and damaged, calendula cream may be applied to speed healing.