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50+: Live Better, Longer

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10 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Nutrition and Healthy Aging

Should I consider taking a multivitamin?

Experts still disagree about whether older Americans should be routinely counseled to take a multivitamin. Most nutritionists agree that the best way to get your nutrients is from food, not pills.

But if you have trouble eating a varied diet of nutrient-rich foods, ask your doctor whether you should take a multivitamin. Be sure to alert your doctor to any and all pills you take, including supplements you buy at the health food store.

What about taking other vitamin or mineral supplements?

Some people may need to take additional supplements of certain nutrients.

For example, if you don’t eat foods rich in calcium, such as dairy products, you made need a calcium supplement. Again, talk to your doctor before taking any pills.

Should I cut back on salt in my diet?

If you have hypertension, or even if your blood pressure is at the high end of normal, cutting back on salt is recommended. The most recent evidence shows that the less sodium you consume, the lower your risk.

The American Heart Association recommends that all Americans reduce the amount of sodium in their diet to less than 1,500 milligrams each day. They estimate that if people moved to this level of sodium, it would result in a 25% decrease in high blood pressure across the country.

Because up to three-quarters of the salt we consume comes in packaged foods, labels are particularly helpful here.

How much alcohol is safe to drink?

Findings show that moderate amounts of alcohol reduce the risk of heart disease.

This does not mean you should start drinking. But if you already drink alcohol, talk to your doctor about a safe level for you -- one that maximizes benefits and minimizes risks.

Could I cut back on some of my medications by following a healthier lifestyle?

Many older people can cut back on blood pressure, cholesterol, or other medications by eating a healthier diet and getting more exercise. Some discover they can go off certain prescription drugs entirely.

Talk to your doctor about whether a healthier lifestyle could mean taking fewer pills.

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