Changing Nutritional Needs As You Age

There is a wealth of information when it comes to finding nutritional advice for children, and even teens, but the most overlooked segment of the population may be the elderly. Many people are surprised to learn that as you age your nutritional requirements change dramatically. These changing nutritional needs must be addressed in order for seniors to maintain a healthy and hopefully active lifestyle. If there is a lack of nutrition in a senior’s diet, it can result in serious and potentially life threatening problems that can be compounded by depression and other quality of life issues. If you are a senior, a caregiver, or just concerned about a senior in your life here, is what you need to know about the changing nutritional needs as you age.

The bottom line is that as you age, changes will occur in your body that can affect your nutritional needs. The aging process directly affects the body's absorption of many nutrients. For example, studies have shown that as you age you are less able to absorb nutrients such as calcium. This change occurs because as you grow older your stomach secretes less hydrochloric acid, which may then reduce the amount of calcium that is absorbed. Your body also eliminates, more nutrients. For example, hormonal changes may result in more calcium being excreted through the kidneys. Because of these reasons it becomes crucial to take in more nutrients to absorb the same amount, or you may become deficient in that vitamin or mineral. Here are some of the most imporant nutrients in any senior’s diet-
  • Calcium-Hormonal changes may decrease calcium absorption as aging also increases the loss of calcium through the kidneys. In addition, many seniors become lactose intolerant (lose some of their ability to digest lactose which is the sugar in milk). Because of this condition, many elderly decide to decrease their intake of dairy products, which are good sources of calcium. However, it is imporant to still get the calcium from somewhere. Studies show that most people (of all ages) do not eat enough dairy products or veggies to get adequate calcium from their diet and should consider supplementation. The recommended amount of calcium can vary with age or medical conditions, but in general adults should have about 1,000 mg a day, and if you are over the age of 50 increase the dose to 1,200 mg daily.

  • Iron-This is necessary to carry oxygen to your cells, but it is difficult to get all you need because most foods contain only a little iron. The best source of iron is found in red meat, but you can also get iron from poultry, fish, whole grain, enriched breads and cereals, dry beans, and some fruits and vegetables. The recommended amount for women over the age of 50 is to get 50 mg of iron a day where as men only need 10 mg. It is imperative to note here that taking too many iron supplements can be lethal. Because of this anyone considering making dietary changes should consult their physician before starting any supplement program.

  • Vitamin C-This vitamin helps you absorb more iron from foods, so you should be sure you include foods with vitamin C (such as citrus fruits, greens, and tomatoes), in the same meal as foods with iron. In addition, Vitamin C has been found to be an immunity booter to help improve overall health.
It can be difficult for some senior’s to be able to consume the amounts of food they need in order to have a nutritious diet. If you are the caregiver for an elderly parent or patient, and are concerned about their nutrition check out for supplements that can be given to boost the nutrition within your senior’s diet. Many of these formulations come in shakes, puddings or even juices, making them easy to eat for anyone suffering from a health problem or just low appetite. In addition, there are special considerations given for those with diabetic or other health needs.

See also:
Do You Really Know What Your Parents Are Eating

About The CareGiver Partnership. The CareGiver Partnership helps caregivers and their loved ones with answers to their caregiving questions, including information about home health care products and supplies, from our Wisconsin-based team of Product Specialists who are all current or former caregivers. The company’s Web site provides the largest online library of resources on subjects most important to caregivers — from arthritis to assisted living, and Parkinson’s to prostate cancer — as well as access to more than 3,000 home care products for incontinence, skin care, mobility, home safety and daily living aids. The CareGiver Partnership was founded in 2004 by Lynn Wilson of Neenah, Wisc. Visit to learn more or call 1-800-985-1353.


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