As we age, our bodies need certain nutrients more than they did when we were younger, for good health. In this post, I’m going to be talking about the top seven essential nutrients specially needed by older adults. If you have an elderly loved one at home that you care for, this post is for you. If you are a caregiver who is in charge of your clients’ feeding, reading this will give you some valuable insights and tips to help provide better nutrition for them. After highlighting the nutrients and their roles, I’ll list the foods that are good sources of each nutrient. Without wasting time, let’s get started:
Nutrients Needed More By Older Adults
There are several key risk factors for heart disease with age being one of them. As a person ages, their blood vessels become more susceptible to narrowing and damaging. What’s more, their heart muscle becomes increasingly prone to weakening and thickening.
Type 2 diabetes is another life-threatening disease to which older people are increasingly exposed. Doctors have declared age as one of the top risk factors for this condition. Could that explain why this condition, which is characterized by a relative lack of insulin, insulin resistance, and high blood sugar, was formerly known as ” adult-onset diabetes?”
Dietary fiber may help lower a person’s risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, using well-defined approaches. For example, the nutrient has cholesterol-lowering characteristics, making sure the levels of cholesterol (a well-known cause of heart disease) remain suppressed. Nonetheless, it slows down the absorption of sugar and improves blood sugar levels reducing the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, which is characterized by high sugar levels.
There is a direct correlation between age and bone health. Generally, older adults have poorer bone health than younger adults. As a person gets older, their bones become more brittle and more susceptible to breaking. Bone mineral density also reduces, increasing a person’s chances of developing bone-related conditions such as osteoporosis.
Calcium plays a crucial role in bone health. For example, the mineral is crucial for healthy bone formation. Apart from that, it helps maintain proper bone mass, providing adequate support for the skeleton. Calcium also helps prevent bones from becoming brittle and fragile so that they wouldn’t break easily.
Vitamin B12 plays crucial roles in different functions that take place in the body, including but not limited to DNA synthesis, red blood cell creation, and nerve cell maintenance. Unfortunately, many older adults lack healthy levels of this essential vitamin because the body tends to (naturally) lose its Vitamin B12 absorption abilities over time. In fact, a study published by Harvard University suggests that up to 20 percent of people aged 50 years and above have a deficiency.
Hypertension, which is also known as high blood pressure, is so common in older adults that it can be categorized as an old-age-related disease. This is caused by the significant changes that occur in our vascular system as we get older, causing the arteries to stiffen. Consequently, blood pressure increases, paving the way for the condition.
Potassium is a well-known natural remedy for high blood pressure. Older adults who take adequate amounts of the mineral together with salt may have a lower risk of developing the condition.
This is an extremely essential nutrient for seniors that not only promotes good bone health but also helps keep infections and certain types of cancers (blood cancer and colon cancer) at bay. Matter of fact, senior citizens have the highest risk for cancer compared to people who belong to other age groups. That’s because they tend to have more unhealthy habits and more potential exposures to the risk factors.
Vitamin D has a unique ability to manage immune cells, decreasing the risk for the above types of cancers significantly. As such, older adults should be given adequate amounts of this vitamin.
Food Sources of the Individual Nutrients Above
To maximize your senior citizen’s dietary fiber intake, serve them cereals, whole-grain bread, peas, and beans. Don’t forget to complement their meals with dietary-fiber-rich vegetables like artichokes, carrots, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and so on. You could also give them fruits such as bananas, pears, beetroots, and avocados, which serve as good sources of the nutrient, after meals.
Dairy foods such as milk and cheese, leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, as well as foods made from fortified flour e.g. bread are some good sources of calcium. Other foods that are abundant in it are bony fishes like pilchards and sardines.
Vitamin B 12
Vitamin B12 can be derived mostly from animals and animal products such as fish, meat, milk, eggs, and cheese. Other food sources of it are fortified breakfast cereals.
Fruits, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, beans, and vegetables are examples of foods that are rich in potassium. You may check Home Chef or Hello Fresh for healthy and potassium-rich meal kit options. Stuck between subscribing to any of the two meal delivery services? Don’t worry, here’s an engaging blog post that compares and contrasts all the key aspects of them. The information should help you make an informed decision without effort. If you are still undecided, check out Sun Basket, which is another excellent alternative.
A range of foods that we eat are high in Vitamin D. This includes red meat, egg yolks, liver, and oily fish like; mackerel, sardines salmon, and herring. Other good food sources for the vitamin include fortified cereals.
Potassium, calcium, Vitamin D, dietary fiber, and Vitamin B12 are desperately needed by the elderly for good health. If you feed a senior citizen, make sure the foods that you give them are high in one or another nutrient. Now that you know the top food sources for each nutrient, that shouldn’t be a difficult responsibility. With that said, good luck with your job.