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How nutritional needs change with age

Healthy eating is important at any age and can set the course for a life of vitality and wellness. Sufficient nutrition can help prevent chronic illnesses and make sure that growing bodies develop properly. As one ages, various changes take place in the body, making healthy eating even more essential.
According to Healthline, nutritional deficiencies can effect aging individuals, which can decrease quality of life and lead to poor health outcomes. Individuals should pay attention to their vitamin and mineral intake at various ages so they do not miss out on important nutrients. As a person ages, here are some approaches to consider.

  • Consume fewer calories: According to Connie Bales, PhD, RD, associate director of the Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center at Durham VA Medical Center, people need fewer calories every decade. That’s because individuals are moving around less and have less muscle. This causes a decline in metabolic rate.
  • Include more nutrient-dense foods: Even though caloric needs go down with age, it’s important to pack as much nutrition into the calories a person does consume. That means finding nutrient-rich foods like whole grains, fruits, nuts, beans, vegetables, fish, and lean cuts of meat.
  • Consume more lean protein: Muscle loss and loss of strength can develop as a person ages. Healthline says the average adult loses 3 to 8 percent of their muscle mass each decade after age 30. Eating more protein could help aging bodies maintain muscle.
  • Eat fortified cereals and grains: The ability to absorb vitamin B12 can decrease as one gets older and with the use of certain medicines. Many health professionals recommend patients get more vitamin B12 by consuming foods enriched with this vitamin. Vitamin supplements may be needed in addition to food.
  • Drink more fluids: says sensation of thirst declines with age. Drinking water and other fluids becomes a priority to stay hydrated. It also helps with digestion.
  • Prioritize bone health: Osteoporosis is a concern for older adults, particularly women who have reached menopause. Osteoporosis occurs when bones become brittle and can break from only the slightest bump or fall, says the Mayo Clinic. Vitamin D and calcium help strengthen bones, and older adults may need more of these nutrients.
    Individuals should speak with their health care providers and nutritionists for further insight into their changing nutritional needs. Such professionals can help customize diets to address specific health concerns.

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