The Importance of Proper Nutrition for an Aging Population
Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month? According to WebMD, older adults have a challenge getting the adequate nutrition that their bodies need. One problem is that older adults need fewer calories in their daily intake and those calories must be packed with nutrition. Our bodies don’t absorb nutrients as efficiently, so supplements and/or eating more nutrient-rich foods may be necessary. Below is a list of some of the nutrients that are important for healthy body function.
Vitamin B12 is essential for creating red blood cells and for maintaining a healthy nerve function. Again, older adults don’t absorb the natural B12 as easily through foods. One solution is eating more foods that are rich in vitamin B12, especially dark leafy greens like kale, collard greens, Chinese cabbage, turnip greens, and foods like fish, meat, poultry, and dairy. Speak to your healthcare provider about B12 supplementation if you are not absorbing enough B12.
Calcium is another important nutrient that is needed by older adults. Calcium, as we know, helps keep our bones strong and healthy so we can resist fractures and brittle bones. Dairy products as well as healthy greens, like kale and broccoli, are good sources of calcium. Your health care provider may suggest a calcium supplement. If you don’t really have an appetite, green smoothies with yogurt or milk, fruit or fruit juice are great ways to get the calcium you need. Adding a tablespoon of molasses in the drink is a good choice to sweeten the smoothie because it is also packed with calcium.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. This is important because, as we suggested above, calcium helps maintain bone health helping prevent osteoporosis and other issues of brittle bones. Vitamin D could also protect against some chronic diseases that could affect older adults, like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and other autoimmune diseases. Foods that have Vitamin D added are cereals and dairy products. Look at the food labels and see if this important nutrient has been added. Fish also contains Vitamin D. Supplementation may be an option. Speak to your healthcare provider about the level of Vitamin D in your body and if it is enough to maintain healthy body function.
Fiber is important for digestion and gut health. Eating whole grains, nuts, beans, fruits and vegetables will go a long way to improving your overall health and wellness. The digestive system moves the wastes out of your body so the body can function efficiently and absorb the nutrients it needs to maintain health. Drinking plenty of water will go a long way to aiding the digestive process. It flushes out the toxins. Fiber absorbs water and if you increase your fiber intake, you must increase your water intake. Dehydration can be an issue with certain medications so it is important to drink at least 3 to 5 large glasses of water each day. If you are physically active, then try to drink 8 glasses a day.