Your body requires a variety of essential vitamins and minerals to work properly — and your nutritional needs change as you age. Each vital nutrient supports different bodily functions that help you stay healthy in various phases of life.

Planning menus to include the appropriate suggested daily amounts of vitamins and minerals may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. You can get many vital nutrients by throwing together a delicious, hearty and healthy pot of soup. Consider the dietary guidelines and try these healthy soup recipes to get the nutrients you need.

Essential vitamins and minerals for older adults

Dietary needs change with age, and it’s never too late to make healthy food and beverage choices. The National Institutes of Health recommends eating nutrient-dense foods from each of the core food groups (vegetables, fruits, grains, protein, dairy and oils) and staying within daily recommended calorie limits.

Calcium, the most abundant mineral in your body, strengthens teeth and bones. Bone mass decreases with age, which puts older adults at a higher risk for osteoporosis and fractures. Dairy products like low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt and dark, leafy greens like kale are good sources of daily calcium.

Furthermore, a sodium-heavy diet can raise your blood pressure, which is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Adults over the age of 51 should not exceed 2,300 mg of sodium daily, or 1,500 mg per day if you currently have hypertension or prehypertension.

You can find recommended daily amounts of essential nutrients from the National Institute on Aging for the National Institutes of Health’s table “Key Vitamins and Minerals for People Over 51.”

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Try these savory soups that serve up just what your body needs to kick off a healthier diet.

Vitamin Rich Vegetable Soup

This flavorful chicken-broth-based vegetable soup has a huge variety of vitamin-rich veggies: broccoli and sweet red peppers for vitamin C; white potatoes for vitamins B1, B3, B6, potassium, and magnesium; carrots for vitamin A and more.

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash soup is a favorite treat that’s yummy any time of year. This recipe features a fun ingredient twist — apples! The surprise fruit adds fiber, vitamins and potassium to the pot. The squash at its core is a great source of fiber for gut health that also boasts multiple vitamins and calcium, magnesium and zinc. Carrots and onions round out the veggies with a vegetable stock and coconut milk base.

Vitamin Vegetable Soup

This vegetable soup variation is packed full of nutrients. Parsnips bring vitamins A, C and K and folate to your bowl, along with carrots for still more vitamins A, E and K. Mushrooms add vitamin D, biotin, niacin and riboflavin, and spinach boasts B vitamins. A tablespoon of olive oil adds heart-healthy fat with garlic, basil, thyme, and black pepper to punch up the flavor.

Lightened-up Pasta Fagioli Soup

Pasta e Fagioli means “pasta and beans,” and this recipe offers a “light” version of the beloved Italian all-in-one meal. Lean ground turkey replaces ground beef as a great protein source, with vitamin A, E and K-packed carrots, and antioxidant-rich tomatoes with folate and potassium. Shredded cabbage adds fiber and folate, while kidney beans (which must always be cooked well) offer additional protein and vitamins. Carb-carrying pasta completes the dish as an energy booster.

Chicken & Kale Soup

Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables, and it’s paired with protein-rich chicken in this hearty soup. A single cup of kale delivers an abundance of vitamins A, K and C. It also contains B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, potassium and more. The savory soup also features potatoes, onions and no-salt-added great northern beans.

These are just a few delicious options to get you started. Include a hearty soup in your day, and you’ll be adding some of the vitamins and minerals that your body needs.

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