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Nutrition Tips for Healthy Aging

How nutritional needs change with age

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS,
August 9, 2011
Episode #150

Page 1 of 3

None of us can avoid getting older but all of us hope to age gracefully, remaining healthy and vital well into our golden years.  A healthy diet can go a long way towards making that dream a reality. But as you get into your 50s, your nutritional needs begin to change. Here are some tips on how to adjust your diet to meet your changing nutritional needs.

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Why Nutritional Needs Change As You Age

It happens to all of us: The body experiences structural and functional changes as you get older and some of these changes increase your need for certain nutrients. At the same time, your ability to absorb and synthesize certain nutrients is declining.  You may also be dealing with health conditions or taking medications that deplete your body of nutrients more quickly. For all of these reasons, the daily requirement for many nutrients increases as you age.

You Need More Calcium with Age

For example, the thickness and density of your bones typically decline with age, making you more susceptible to fractures. At the same time, you secrete less stomach acid, which makes it harder for your body to absorb calcium.  Accordingly, the recommended calcium intake for seniors is about 20% higher than it is for younger adults.

Rather than rely entirely on supplements to meet your calcium needs, however, try to get as much as you can from calcium rich foods like dairy products, canned fish, tofu, and vegetables from the cabbage family.  It’s entirely possible to meet your calcium needs from foods alone.  If you’re concerned that you might be falling short, you can take a supplement. But only take enough to fill the gap between your dietary intake and your recommended intake.

See also:  Are You Getting Enough Calcium?

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