Healthy eating for older adults and staying fit can be a challenge because of the following reasons:
(i) As you age, the number of calories your body needs starts declining. So each calorie you intake must be loaded with nutrition so as to fulfil your body needs.
(ii) According to Katherine Tucker, RD, PhD, chair of the department of health sciences at Northeastern University in Boston: “”As we get older, the body becomes less efficient at absorbing some key nutrients.”
(iii) Older persons’ ability to taste food decreases, dampening appetite.
(iv) Some foods become difficult to chew or digest.
(v) As we age our bodies have different needs, so certain nutrients become more important in old age for good maintaining health .
Nutrition Needs For Older Adults – 8 Essentials They May Be Missing
If you are an older adult, it is important for you to use every meal and snack as an opportunity to improve your diet in order to intake maximum nutrition such as essential vitamins, mineral and fiber in order to keep you healthy and to prevent some chronic illness. Read on to find the ways:
Vitamin B12 – Vitamin For Older Adults
B12 is essential for forming red blood cells and DNA, and for preserving healthy nerve function. As you age your body’s ability to absorb it from food declines. So even if your diet contains sufficient amount, you may still be falling short.
What to eat: Eat more foods rich in B12 such as fortified cereal, lean meat, poultry, eggs, milk, milk products and some fish and seafood. Speak to your doctor to find out whether you need a B12 supplement.
Folate/Folic Acid – Vitamin For Older Adults
Diminishing cognitive functions such as deterioration in memory, reduced ability to process information quickly, and reduced verbal fluency have been linked to deficiency of folate in old age. Older people who don’t eat plenty of fruits and vegetables or fortified breakfast cereals can suffer its deficiency.
What to eat: Since now breakfast cereals fortified with folate are available on market, its deficiencies are less common. But in case you don’t eat breakfast cereals or a lot fruits and vegetables, it’s wise to talk to your doctor whether you should take a supplement that contains folate.
As you age you need more calcium to maintain bone health. Unfortunately, studies show that as we grow older, we eat much less calcium. Calcium is so important that if you don’t get enough, your body will drain it out of your bones. Being short on calcium has been found to increase the risk of brittle bones and fractures.
What to eat: The best way to boost your calcium intake is through food. It’s not just about how much calcium you’re getting but also how it’s being absorbed into your body. Good dietary sources of calcium include: (i) Dairy products (e.g., milk, yogurt, kefir) (ii) Boned fish (e.g., sardines) (iii) Soy and tofu (iv) Dark green vegetables and (v) Juices fortified with calcium. Smoothies made with yogurt, fruit, and even vegetables are a great option for people who have lost their appetite or have trouble chewing. In addition, there are certain foods that affect how your body process and use calcium. Too much salt, alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine obstruct absorption of calcium.
Your body needs vitamin D to help absorb calcium, preserve bone density, and prevent osteoporosis. Many research studies have found that D may also help in keeping some chronic diseases at bay such as cancer, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and autoimmune diseases. In elderly persons, vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to increased risk of falling and fractures. Many older people fall short in vitamin D, which is mainly created by your skin when exposed to sunlight.
What to eat: These days many foods are fortified with vitamin D, including cereals, milk, some yogurts, and juices. Salmon, tuna, and eggs are few foods that are said to contain natural vitamin D. Many dieticians advise older persons should take vitamin D supplements because the skin becomes less efficient at producing vitamin D from sunlight as we grow older. If you take a calcium supplement or multivitamin, choose one that contains vitamin D.
Fiber helps promote efficient digestion by moving foods through the digestive tract and thus keep you regular. It also can help prevent heart disease, control your weight and lower risk of Type 2 diabetes.
What to eat: Include in your diet whole-grain breads and cereals, and more beans and peas — along with fruits and vegetables and other foods that provide high fiber. If you don’t eat plenty of such whole foods, chances are you won’t get enough fiber. Most Americans only get about half the recommended levels.
Getting enough potassium along with reducing sodium (salt) in your diet help reduce high blood pressure and the risk of kidney stones. Another benefit it offers is that it helps keep bones strong. It’s so sad, studies have found that a lot of older Americans don’t get the recommended 4,700 mg of potassium a day.
What to eat:
Fruits and vegetables are packed with dietary sources of potassium. Banana, prunes, plums, and potatoes with their skin are especially rich in potassium. Low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt are also good sources of potassium. Select and prepare foods with little or no added salt. Don’t take potassium supplements without talking to your doctor first. Just as too little potassium can be a problem, too much potassium can be very dangerous for your health.
Magnesium plays a vital role in more than 300 metabolic processes in the body, including muscle contraction, protein synthesis, cell reproduction, energy metabolism, and the transport of nutrients into cells. Getting the needed amount can help maintain your immune system in excellent condition, your heart healthy, and your bones strong. Many studies have shown that some elderly people get little magnesium in their diets. That, combined with the fact that, with age, magnesium absorption decreases and excretion in urine increases, provides the perfect formula for magnesium depletion and deficiency.
What to eat: Include in your diet as many unprocessed foods as possible, including fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, beans and seeds, all of which are great sources of magnesium.
Fats In Your Diet
Choose foods that are low in saturated fats and trans fat because they are known to help lower your risk of heart disease. Make sure that the most of the fats you eat should be polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Always check the Nutrition Facts labels for total fat and saturated fat.
Water might not seem to you a necessary vitamin or mineral, but it is critical for maintaining good health – whatever your age. However as you age, sense of thirst may decline. Certain medicines also enhance the risk for becoming dehydrated. Water is particularly important when you are increasing the fiber content in your diet because it absorbs water. As per the Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults, created by Tufts University researchers, 8 glasses of fluids in a day ranks next to physical activity in importance for health.
Just Fitness Tip: One sign that you’re drinking sufficient water is the color of your urine. It should be pale yellow. If it is bright or dark yellow, you may need to drink more liquids.
Please share with us are you taking the above essential old age nutrients under the comments section below.