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How Nutritional Needs Change as We Age

As we get older, our nutritional requirements change. For many people, aging also brings about a change in preferences, tastes and eating habits. Some individuals develop additional dietary needs, such as needing low-sodium or diabetic meals, and some require pureed or otherwise-altered foodstuffs. Meeting nutritional needs is vital for maintaining optimal health. Living as part of a senior residential community can ensure you or your aging loved ones keep on top of your changing dietary needs and always eat the best meals for your health and well-being. This article discusses common nutritional changes for seniors.

Calorie Requirements

In general, seniors need fewer calories than they did when they were younger. Muscle mass gradually decreases throughout an adult’s life. A lower amount of muscle tends to mean more fat, which burns fewer calories than muscle. Therefore, the older a person becomes, the less muscle they have and so the fewer calories their body needs to remain active and healthy. Failing to adjust the calorific intake with age can lead to older individuals becoming overweight, which can cause or add to other health problems.

Protein Requirements

Many seniors need more protein than they did when they were younger; it’s important that seniors get adequate protein in their diets to prevent muscle deterioration. The older a person gets, the more protein they need to maintain healthy muscles. Additionally, seniors should try and vary their sources of protein, including meat, poultry dairy, eggs, seafood, and legumes.

Vitamin B12 Intake

With aging, the body is less able to absorb vitamin B12, an essential vitamin for healthy blood and nerves. Older adults may need to increase their intake of the vitamin, which is only found naturally in animal products, or take supplements. However, the body may not be able to absorb dietary vitamin sources or oral supplements at all; in such a case, seniors may need sublingual (absorbed under the tongue) or injectable supplements.

Fiber Intake

Unfortunately, certain medications and inactivity can make seniors more prone to suffering from constipation.  Many seniors find that increasing their fiber intake can help to relieve constipation and promote heathy bowel habits.

Calcium and Vitamin D Intake

As people age, their bones can lose minerals, which can make their bones more fragile. It can also cause bone loss, which can lead to osteoporosis. Calcium can help to remineralize bones and thus reduce bone loss. All seniors should ensure they have adequate calcium in their diet, although those who are at risk of osteoporosis should consider taking supplements. Such individuals should also supplement vitamin D, as the body needs adequate vitamin D to absorb calcium.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Intake

Scientists believe that foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids can help to maintain cognitive function and boost brain health. Certain types of fish, such as tuna, mackerel, sardines and salmon, along with walnuts, flaxseed, and plant oils are high in beneficial Omega-3 oils.

Hydration Needs

A person’s body needs greater hydration as they age. Seniors should actively try to drink more water and keep on top of remaining adequately hydrated. Dehydration can lead to diverse health problems. Residents at Inspired at Living Alpharetta benefit from nutritious menus created by professional dietitians and prepared by an expert culinary team. Meals are tailored to suit individual dietary needs and dishes are made to appeal to those who may have a reduced appetite. To learn more about assisted living and memory care in Alpharetta, GA, contact the team at (470) 509-5995 or on this form to book a tour.  

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