At any point in time of one’s life, the need for the right amount of nutrients and minerals can change drastically. It depends on what they currently need and do not need. Mostly, this change happens when one is recovering from a certain sickness, and his or her body needs a specific type and amount of nutrients and minerals in their system to fully recover.
However, once a person reaches seniority, the nutritional needs of their body also change due to their aging condition. The massive importance of senior nutrition comes into the picture.
Therefore, the push for more knowledge about senior nutrition has been pursued by many groups and organizations around the world to make sure that senior citizens are given enough nutrition for their daily needs.
In this article, we will look at the importance of senior nutrition and the benefits it brings to the population’s seniors.
Changes in Nutritional Needs for Seniors
Most people don’t know the exact reason why seniors, in general, have more specialized nutritional needs than younger people. However, it could be due to their body’s metabolism.
The metabolism in older people is slower than in younger people. This means that their bodies absorb fewer minerals and nutrients from the food that they eat due to their digestive system being slower than before.
Furthermore, due to their slower metabolism, most older people don’t eat as much as younger people do. Their taste buds are not as effective as before, making foods that they eat taste bland and less flavorful than before. This results in nutritional deficiencies in this stage of their lives.
Do take note that nutritional needs are vastly different for each senior man and woman, wherein the latter needs more additional calcium and fewer calories to avoid osteoporosis, which is common among women.
What are the Vitamin Requirements for Seniors?
According to Lifeline by Philips, listed below are the required vitamins a senior citizen should take to keep themselves fit and healthy.
Vitamin B6 – This is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies among seniors. Without this, a senior citizen is at a greater risk of experiencing the following:
- heart problems
- loss of circulation
- tingling sensation on both hands and feet
- having fragile skin.
Vitamin B12 – without this, a senior citizen is at a higher risk of having the following:
- loss of appetite
- balance problems
- diarrhea or constipation
- loss of concentration
Vitamin D & Calcium – without these, a senior citizen is at a higher risk of calcium deficiency, which may result in complications with their bones, in which they may break easily and take longer to heal.
Folic Acid – without this, a senior citizen is at a higher risk of having the following:
- decreasing appetite
- sudden weight loss
Providing the Proper Nutrients
Without the vitamins mentioned above, a senior citizen’s health will be negatively affected, and it will greatly affect their physical and mental wellbeing in general.
To avoid nutritional deficiency, a senior must be provided with the proper meals that contain the right nutrients to maintain a healthy and fit state. Below are some of the ways to give the proper nutrients to seniors.
- Lean proteins – in most cases, seniors are unable to properly eat and chew meat; therefore, the best alternative for this is eggs and beans, respectively.
- Whole grains – this helps seniors to have good digestion and protect their heart from other possible complications. Foods for this include whole-grain cereals, whole wheat bread, as well as brown rice.
- Healthy fats – these include foods such as vegetable oils, fish fat, and fats from nuts.
- Raw fruit and vegetables – most foods under this category provide the essential minerals and nutrients a senior will significantly benefit from. If raw is not applicable, then steaming it would work too, but be careful not to overcook it.
- Dairy foods rich in calcium – these include yogurt, milk, and cottage cheese. These are best consumed every day for the best results.
- Foods rich with Vitamin B – these include the following:
- red meat and pork
- peas and lentils
- almonds and peanuts
- spinach and leafy green vegetables
- whole-grain cereals
Consume them in moderation, of course.
Possible Dangers of Senior Malnutrition
Sadly, due to their taste buds not being as effective as before when they were younger, most seniors lose their appetite, resulting in the lack of proper food intake during the day.
There are some cases where they tend to forget to eat once or twice a day, due to the lack of hunger as an effect of having a lower appetite.
In this case, vitamin supplements can be introduced in their daily meals to avoid nutrient deficiency in their aging bodies. Seniors should consult their doctor regarding what vitamin supplements they need to take.
Having the proper set of vitamin supplements can help seniors combat their nutrient deficiency (even with weak digestion due to their slower metabolism, as mentioned earlier in this post). This will help them maintain their health and well-being in the long run.
As we’ve covered, there is a need to combat nutrient deficiency in seniors. We must ensure that their physical, mental, and emotional health are in tip-top shape.
Staying fit during this stage of their lives makes it easier for them to relax and have a good time during their retirement, worrying less about their health.
Additionally, this is one of the things that younger people can provide as a form of help and respect for their elders. Our elders deserve a comfortable and relaxing retirement after all the work and effort they have put in – not just for themselves, but for their families, friends, and the public as well. After all, those same young people will become old themselves eventually.