Tip: Senior Nutritional Needs

3 Aug

A balanced diet and physical activity can do wonders for the senior in your life. It contributes tremendously to enhanced independence and a greater quality of life. There are many factors that contribute to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. We highlight just a few of them below. More information on Senior Nutrition can be found at helpguide.org.

 

How many calories do seniors need?

A woman over 50 who is:

  • Not physically active needs about 1600 calories a day
  • Somewhat physically active needs about 1800 calories a day
  • Very active needs about 2000 calories a day

A man over 50 who is:

  • Not physically active needs about 2000 calories a day
  • Somewhat physically active needs about 2200-2400 calories a day
  • Very active needs about 2400-2800 calories a day

 

Senior food pyramid guidelines

Fruit – Focus on whole fruits rather than juices for more fiber and vitamins and aim for around 1 ½ to 2 servings each day. Break the apple and banana rut and go for color-rich pickings like berries or melons.

Veggies – Color is your credo in this category. Choose antioxidant-rich dark, leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, and broccoli as well as orange and yellow vegetables, such as carrots, squash, and yams. Try for 2 to 2 ½ cups of veggies every day.

Calcium – Maintaining bone health as you age depends on adequate calcium intake to prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures. Seniors need 1,200 mg of calcium a day through servings of milk, yogurt, or cheese. Non-dairy sources include tofu, broccoli, almonds, and kale.

Grains – Be smart with your carbs and choose whole grains over processed white flour for more nutrients and more fiber. If you’re not sure, look for pasta, breads, and cereals that list “whole” in the ingredient list. Seniors need 6-7 ounces of grains each day (one ounce is about 1 slice of bread).

Protein – Seniors need about 0.5 grams per pound of bodyweight. Simply divide your bodyweight in half to know how many grams you need. A 130-pound woman will need around 65 grams of protein a day. A serving of tuna, for example, has about 40 grams of protein. Vary your sources with more fish, beans, peas, nuts, eggs, milk, cheese, and seeds.

 

Important vitamin and minerals

Water – Seniors are prone to dehydration because our bodies lose some of the ability to regulate fluid levels and our sense of thirst is dulled as we age. Post a note in your kitchen reminding you to sip water every hour and with meals to avoid urinary tract infections, constipation, and even confusion.

Vitamin B – After 50, your stomach produces less gastric acid making it difficult to absorb vitamin B-12—needed to help keep blood and nerves vital. Get the recommended daily intake (2.4 mcg) of B12 from fortified foods or a vitamin supplement.

Vitamin D – We get most of our vitamin D intake—essential to absorbing calcium—through sun exposure and certain foods (fatty fish, egg yolk, and fortified milk). With age, our skin is less efficient at synthesizing vitamin D, so consult your doctor about supplementing your diet with fortified foods or a multivitamin.

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