Nutritional Needs Of The Elderly

The greatest impact we can have on our health in the future is providing the best nutrition possible to our ever-aging bodies. We are not only growing older but our lifestyles change in our retirement years and nutrition is very important. Maintaining the required nutrition is very important in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, stroke, osteoporosis, a declining immune function and cancer. As we age our bodies can undergo a considerable change in body composition influencing and changing the nutritional requirements for our bodies. Vitamin D deficiency in the elderly is of particular concern especially those in a nursing home or hospital because of poor dietary intake of vitamins and lack of exposure to the sun. A lack of vitamin D severely restricts the immune system from protecting the body against bacteria and viruses. Also, changes in the intestinal tract can influence the uptake of vitamins such as vitamin B12, because vitamins are not absorbed the same as when we were younger. As we age, there is a decrease in the production of stomach acid which is important to absorb dietary vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron. As a result of these changes a vitamin B12 deficiency can develop. Vitamin B12 is important in blood formation, neurological function and cardiovascular function. A lack of vitamin B12 can mimic dementia and Alzheimer’s, however can be reversed with the treatment to uptake vitamin B12.

Elderly peoples physique

One of the most dramatic physiological changes that happen as we age is the change in the composition of lean muscle mass known as sarcopenia. Muscle mass is achieved easiest in our 20s and 30s and can be maintained into our senior years with regular exercise and lifting weights. However, as we age it becomes harder to become lean and attain a high level of cardiovascular fitness unless we maintain it from an earlier age. While it may be difficult to attain high levels of fitness, current research also shows us that even at an advanced age of 90 years, appropriate forms of physical exercise can reverse years of changes and increase muscle strength. This will increase energy, improve appetite, increase bone mass and improve sleep habits.