Eating healthy and living an active lifestyle is important at any age. However, as people age and our bodies change, so do the nutrient needs of older adults. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, “requirements for some nutrients might be reduced, however, some data suggests that requirements for other essential nutrients may arise later in life.”
This means that as we age, it’s important to reevaluate our diets and make changes to meet the evolving needs of our bodies. While each individual’s body is different, there are a few common nutritional needs of older adults. It’s important to consult your doctor or dietitian before making any significant changes to your diet.
Common Deficiencies in Older Adults
While there are different causes of malnutrition in older adults, many are at risk of being undernourished. According to an article published by the American Journal of Nursing, a systematic review of 54 studies reported that nearly 83% of adults aged 65 and older are at risk for malnutrition.
Common deficiencies include insufficient consumption of vitamins A, B, C, D, and E. These deficiencies can cause a number of symptoms such as, a slower metabolism, changes in our appetite and digestive system, negative changes in our emotional health, and difficulty in fighting off illness and disease.
Nutrient Needs of Older Adults
The USDA recommends that people ages 50 and older eat meals made up of fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, dairy foods, oils, and small amounts of solid fats and added sugars. In addition to this, older adults are also recommended to eat foods full of the following nutrients, unless directed otherwise by a healthcare provider:
Calcium and Vitamin D
These nutrients help maintain bone health, which is an important factor in preventing falls and injury. Some calcium rich foods include dark green leafy vegetables, canned fish, milk and plant-based beverages.
This vitamin works to improve and maintain healthy nerve function, while creating red blood cells. This is especially important for older adults because as we age, Vitamin B12 can become more difficult to absorb. Fish, meat, poultry, and eggs are rich in B12.
This plays a crucial role in keeping our hearts healthy and immune systems strong. Some medications may reduce the absorption of magnesium. We can get our dose of magnesium by including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts into our diets.
Eating foods rich in fiber can help your digestive system keep you regular. It can also help reduce the risk of heart disease. Whole grain breads along with fruits and vegetables can help you reach your daily fiber goals.
At our Carespring facilities in Dayton, Cincinnati, and Northern Kentucky, we know how important a healthy diet can be in achieving overall wellness. That’s why nutrition is a top priority for our residents and patients. If you’d like to contact us for more information about our facilities, please don’t hesitate to reach out.