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Thursday 18 October 2018

Nutrients That Supports Your Old Age

What are the nutrition needs of older adults?

Our body composition begins to change around age 50, with a slow, progressive loss of muscle mass and an increase in fat mass (6). And because our resting metabolic rate (or energy requirement) is largely influenced by muscle mass, these physical changes translate into a reduced calorie need. However, this change in metabolism is not as significant as many people assume; from age 30-80 years. These physical changes highlight the importance of strength-building activities in seniors, which preserve both muscle integrity (as well as metabolism) and bone health.  Here are the Vitamin, Minerals and nutrients that matter most as we age:

Vitamins, Minerals & Nutrients


Protein needs among older adults are hotly debated, with many suggesting that a higher requirement is needed given that muscle’s response to protein is less efficient in older age (6). Presently, there is no separate recommendation for protein among older adults (i.e. requirements for all adults are 0.8 g per kg per day; 7), although many experts (including me) recommend a slightly higher intake of 1-1.2 g per kg per day with a focus on meeting essential amino acid requirements (6).


The ability to detect thirst decreases with age and dehydration is a common issue in older adults (which can have a negative effect on kidney health and skin integrity;. The World Health Organization recommends 30 mL of water per kg (2.2 lbs) of body weight, with a greater volume being needed for those with malnutrition.

Omega 3

As we age, our ability to fight oxidative damage declines. Consequently, it’s important to include foods with anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. One such nutrient is omega 3, or more specifically, DHA and EPA, which are found in algae and animals consuming algae (6). Including these fats, either through supplementation or the ingestion of fatty fish/algae, may protect against cognitive decline, the progression of cardiovascular disease, and arthritis.


Most people are not eating enough fibre. According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2009-2010, the average fibre intake for men and women aged 60+ was 18 and 15 grams per day, respectively (8). This intake is far below minimum requirements set by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of 30 grams per day for men and 21 grams per day for women aged 50 years and older (8). Not only can lower fibre intake lead to constipation (especially when combined with a low fluid intake and a lack of physical activity), it may have a role in the development of diverticular disease, heart disease, and diabetes (6). The best sources of dietary fibre include: pulses, whole grains, fruit, vegetables, as well as nuts and seeds.


As we age, bone health can be compromised since we begin to lose density (occurring in both females and males) and the absorption of calcium declines (5). The IOM recommends a calcium intake of 1200 mg per day for women over 50 and men over 70 (10). Unless prescribed by a physician, it is best to meet calcium needs through food, rather than supplements.

Vitamin D

Most people associate vitamin D – the sunshine vitamin – with bone health. While it’s true that vitamin D is essential for the development and maintenance of strong bones, its role in health goes far beyond bones. Results of epidemiological studies suggest that vitamin D deficiency may play a role in the development of autoimmune disease, heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and infectious diseases (11). The IOM recommends a vitamin D intake of 600 IU for adults aged 50+ and 800 IU for those over 70 years (12). However, this level of intake may not be enough to achieve an optimal vitamin D status (50 nmol/L) and a higher dose of 2000 IU may be necessary (11). Because there are so few food sources of vitamin D, and the production of vitamin D from UV exposure is extremely variable, vitamin D needs should be met through supplementation.


Deficiency of B12 is common among older adults due to decreased stomach acid production (which is needed to absorb vitamin B12), the presence of atrophic gastritis, use of certain medications (antacids, metformin), and pernicious anemia (5). As such, regular monitoring for vitamin B12 deficiency is important in this population. Routine supplementation of vitamin B12 is recommend for anyone following a vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or semi-vegetarian diet.


Zinc plays an important role in wound healing, immunity, appetite regulation, and the prevention of macular degeneration (5). Individuals are advised to meet requirements of this nutrient through food, rather than supplements, since supplementation can interfere with the absorption and regulation of other minerals.

It is best to start your day with plenty of clean on empty stomach, followed by moderate exercise will help improve your overall health.



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