The nutritional requirements of elders are not well defined. Since both lean body mass and basal metabolic rate decline with age, an older person’s energy requirement per kilogram of body weight is also reduced. Thus seniors are particularly vulnerable to malnutrition. Moreover, attempts to provide them with adequate nutrition encounter many practical problems. The process of aging also affects other nutrient needs. While requirements for some nutrients may be reduced, requirements for other essential nutrients may in fact rise in later life.

Special Nutrient Needs of Older Adults

Eating right and staying fit are important no matter what your age. As we get older our bodies have different needs, so certain nutrients become especially important for good health.

1. Calcium and Vitamin D : Older adults need more calcium and vitamin D to help maintain bone health. Have three servings of vitamin D-fortified low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt each day. Other calcium-rich foods include fortified cereals and fruit juices, dark green leafy vegetables and fish with soft bones. If you take a calcium supplement or multivitamin, choose one that contains vitamin D.

2. Vitamin B12 : Many older people do not get enough Vitamin B12. Fortified cereal, lean meat and some fish and seafood are sources of vitamin B12.

3. Fiber : Eat more fiber-rich foods to stay regular. Fiber also can help in lower your risk for heart disease, control your weight and prevent Type 2 diabetes. Eat whole-grain bread and cereals, and more beans and peas — along with fruits and vegetables which also provide fiber.

4. Potassium : Increasing Potassium along with reducing sodium (salt) may lower your risk of high blood pressure. Fruits, vegetables and low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt are good sources of potassium. Also, select and prepare foods with little or no added salt.

5. Know Your Fats : Foods that are low in saturated fats and trans fat help reduce your risk of heart disease. Check the Nutrition Facts panel on food labels for total fat and saturated fat.

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