Here are some ways your nutritional needs might change as you grow older

Old age is linked to a variety of problems including deficiencies and overall poor health. It is very important to take extra care of what you eat as you age. You should make sure you eat nutrient-rich foods and also take supplements if required. These are a few simple ways to make sure you keep healthy all your life. However, to make sure you are supplying your body with the right nutrients, you should know that your requirements also change as you grow old. Here are a few ways in which your body’s requirements change as you grow old.

You need fewer calories
The number of calories required by your body depends on your height, weight, muscle mass and activity levels among many other factors. As you grow old, you may need a lot fewer calories to maintain your body weight as you tend to exercise a lot less and also have less muscle to carry. If you do not reduce your calorie intake, you will gain weight fast, mostly around the belly. However, lower calories does not mean you compromise on your nutrient intake. It is possible that you actually need a higher nutrient intake as you grow older. You need to make sure that whole foods like fruits, vegetables and lean meats are an integral part of your diet. Nutrients like vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium and proteins are very important for you.

Add protein to your diet As you age, it is common to lose muscle and strength. Studies suggest that an average adult loses 3-8% of their muscle mass each decade after turning 30. This is also known as sarcopenia. It is a leading cause of weakness and fractures in older people. Increasing your protein intake can help you fight this. It slows the rate of muscle loss and increases mass. Protein also helps you build more muscle. You should also look at combining a protein-rich diet with some resistance exercise to fight muscle loss more effectively.

Increase your intake of fiber
Constipation is another common health problem among elders, especially after you turn 65. This is mainly because at this age people move less or are under medications which have constipation as a major side effect. The only way to relieve this is to increase the intake of fiber in your diet. It helps keep bowel movements regular. A high-fiber diet also prevents diverticular disease which causes small pouches to form along the colon which can later become infected and inflamed.

You need more calcium and Vitamin D

These are the two most important nutrients for maintaining bone health. Calcium is important for the bones and vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. However, absorption of calcium from food is slower in older people. This is likely caused by vitamin D deficiency. Your body can produce vitamin D from the cholesterol in the body when it is in sunlight. However, as we age, our skin gets thinner which reduces the ability to form Vitamin D. Not getting enough calcium or vitamin D can cause bone loss and increase risk of fractures. Dairy products and green, leafy vegetables are the best sources of calcium, whereas, vitamin D is found in abundance in fish such as salmon and herring.

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