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How your nutritional needs change as you grow older

Dec 1, 2020
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What constitutes a healthy diet changes as we grow older. The foods we have been eating previously may no longer contain the correct balance of nutrients to meet your changing nutritional needs.

Luckily, there are simple changes you can make to your diet to help avoid nutritional deficiencies and help keep you strong and active.

How does ageing change our nutritional requirements?
Ageing is linked to several changes in the body, these may include loss of muscle mass, thinner skin, more brittle bones and changes to digestive health. Nutrients including protein, vitamin D, calcium and vitamin B12 become especially important as we age. Therefore, consuming a varied and nutrient-rich diet is important.

However, the challenge is that older people often have a decreased appetite, making it challenging for older adults to meet their requirements for key nutrients, without increasing portion sizes.

Protein
From the age of 30, adults lose between 3-8% of muscle mass each decade1. The loss of muscle mass and strength is known as sarcopenia, which is a condition that is a major cause of weakness, fractures and poor health among the elderly1. Eating more protein could help your body maintain muscle strength and help keep you active for longer1. Find ways to increase your protein intake here.

Or try out our quick and easy Protein Calculator tool


Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium and vitamin D are two of the most important nutrients to support bone health. Calcium helps build strong bones, while vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium from the diet. Staying indoors and covering up may adversely affect your vitamin D levels, therefore some people may require a nutritional supplement containing vitamin D. Speak to your health care professional for individual advice. Read more here about calcium and vitamin D.

Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, essential for making red blood cells and generating energy from the nutrients you eat in your diet. People aged over 50 have a reduced ability to absorb vitamin B12 from their diet, which could lead to a deficiency2. Older people therefore may benefit from including a nutritional supplement containing vitamin B12.

What About Fibre?
Constipation is a common health problem in people over 65 years. Eating fibre helps contribute to regular bowel movements and maintain a healthy digestive system3.

You may struggle to eat enough food.
A decline in appetite is common as we age, which can make it more challenging to consume the right balance of nutrients. If appropriate action is not taken, this can lead to unintentional weight loss and nutritional deficiencies.

How can I make sure I am eating the right balance?

  • Speak to your healthcare professional
  • Introduce a nutritionally complete supplement such as SUSTAGEN Hospital Active Fibre.
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This can be enjoyed as a delicious high protein breakfast drink, or used to fortify your favourite meals or snacks, giving you that nutritional boost without needing to eat more food!

Explore our recipe page here.


References
Volpi, E et al Muscle Tissue Changes with Aging; Curr Opin Clinic Nutr Metab Care. 2004, July: 7(4): 405-410. Accessed on 16/11/2020 from here
Stover, P.J; Vitamin B12 and older adults. Curr Opin Clinic Nutr Metab Care. 2010, Jan; 13(1):24-27. Accessed on 16/11/2020 from here

Better Health Channel. Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis. Accessed on 18/11/2020 from here.

 

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