Nutrition and Older Adults.

Inspired by National Nutrition Week, it’s a good time to take a look at the nutrients our body needs as it gets older.

As our lifestyle and activity levels change, our food and nutrient requirements change too. Fewer calories are needed to fuel the body, and nutrient absorption usually slows down. As we age, it can be a challenge to receive an adequate amount of the vitamins and minerals we need. And, which vitamins and nutrients are important for older adults? Let’s take a look…

Nutrition and Older Adults

Bone Health

Bone mass or density declines as people age. To maintain healthy bones, older adults should consume plenty of calcium and vitamin D. Calcium can be found in dairy foods, fish with soft edible bones, calcium-enriched soy drink, and dark green leafy vegetables. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Recent studies also suggest that vitamin D may also guard against autoimmune diseases and type 1 diabetes. Fatty fish such as trout, salmon, tuna and mackerel are among the richest natural food sources of vitamin D. Mushrooms are a great plant-based option for vitamin D.

Circulation and Nervous System

Vitamin B12 helps the body make red blood cells and maintain the proper function of nerve cells. A B12 deficiency can cause anaemia and cognitive impairment. It could also result in neuropathy, which is a tingling or prickly feeling in the legs or hands, numbness or muscle weakness, and makes it difficult to walk.  The body’s ability to absorb B12 declines as we get older. Your diet is the best way to obtain B12, with foods such as clams, liver, fortified cereal, trout, beef, poultry, eggs, and low-fat milk.

Dietary Fibre

Dietary Fibre is an important part of a healthy diet for people of all ages. For older people it can help with constipation. Older adults may be prone to constipation due to a lack of adequate fluids and exercise, and because of the use of medications. Fibre can also lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Wholegrain cereals, wholemeal bread, fruit, peas, broccoli, legumes, and nuts are an excellent source of fibre. Water and fibre work well together, so consuming enough fluids during the day will also help prevent constipation.

Grocery shopping

Shopping and meal preparation may become more difficult as people get older or mobility declines. Keeping a well-stocked pantry and freezer with foods that keep for a long time is a good idea. Having foods such as canned beans, canned fish, canned fruit, pasta, cereals, and frozen meat, seafood and vegetables on hand makes it easier to prepare a nutritious meal at any time.

Another option is in home care services like ours. Home care providers can assist with your transport and shopping needs. After-Care’s qualified, friendly home care workers enjoy cooking and spending time in the kitchen. We are always available to help you stay on track with a healthy, balanced diet.