Nutrition Tips for Older Adults
Did you know that as you age your nutrition requirements change? In some cases, your calorie requirements may go down, especially if you become less active, while your nutrient requirements increase. Protein, calcium, vitamin D, B6 & B12 as well as fibre are all nutrients to pay attention to.
Research shows that protein requirements for the average adult under the age of 50 is 0.85-1g/kg body weight. With activity requirements increase. Older adults’ protein requirements increase to 1.2g/kg due to increased muscle loss, protein turnover and bone health. For a 130lb woman this is 70g per day. In order to get this amount, she would need to consume 2 tbsp peanut butter, 1.5 oz tuna, 2.5 oz chicken, 3/4 cups Greek yogurt and 1 cup milk. It’s best to spread out protein intake throughout the day to maximize utilization of the amino acids for muscle synthesis. Protein foods are also good source of zinc which aids wound healing, immune function and eye health. They also happen to be good sources of B vitamins.
Protein content of some common foods (g/serving):
|Protein powder||1 scoop||27|
|Sole Fillet (baked)||3oz||21|
|Tuna (canned in water)||3oz||22|
|Greek yogurt||1 cup||22|
|BOOST high protein||1 bottle||15|
|Cottage cheese||½ cup||14|
|Yogurt (low fat)||1 cup||13|
|Milk (2%)||1 cup||8|
|Cheddar Cheese||1 oz||8|
|Peanut Butter||2 tbsp||8|
Tips for adding protein to your diet
- Use peanut butter instead of butter on your toast
- Add tuna to your melted cheese sandwich
- Sprinkle nuts on your salad or eat them as a snack
- Choose Greek yogurt which is higher in protein
- Drink milk or BOOST high protein with your meal or as a snack instead of water
CALCIUM & VITAMIN D
Calcium and vitamin D requirements increase as we age too. Aim for 3 servings per day of any of the following: 1 cup skim milk, 3/4 cup low fat yogurt, 1 cup soymilk and 1.5oz low fat cheese. Fortunately, these are also source of protein so you are killing 2 birds!
As we age our absorption of vitamin B12 goes down. Food sources of B12 include fortified breakfast cereals, meat, poultry and fish. If your B12 levels are low, you may need a supplement either orally or intramuscularly (needle).
FIBRE, FLUID & FRIENDLY BACTERIA
70% of your immune system is located in your GI tract. Ensuring the health of your gut as you age will help ward off infection and prevent GI symptoms such as diarrhea and constipation. Men need 38g of fibre per day and women need 25g. Getting 7-9 servings of vegetables and fruit and choosing whole grains, nuts and legumes more often will help you get there. Drink at least 6-10 cups of fluid per day (including coffee and tea) and choose foods such as probiotic yogurt and kefir for healthy bacteria.