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5 Nutritional Needs Important for Seniors

January 25th, 2017

horizontal-1155878_1920(1)Nutrients are required by all cells and organisms to stay alive, no matter the age of the cell or organism in question. Nutrition is the study of nutrients in food and how the body uses those nutrients. Maintaining adequate nutrition is challenging in older adults as nutrient needs increase while caloric needs decrease. Each calorie consumed must be nutrient dense to meet the body’s needs. With such a long list of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, how can friends and family already receiving Orlando in-home care possibly figure out which ones their body may be deficient in? For those with specific medical issues, they may need the assistance of a nutritionist or dietician to determine the best ways to meet their body’s nutritional requirements. For the otherwise healthy individuals trying to make sure they stay that way as they age, there are five nutritional needs that are particularly important for seniors.

  1. Calcium is essential to bone health.

Dairy products and some dark green leafy vegetables like kale and broccoli are examples of more calcium-rich foods. Yogurt smoothies or ice cream milkshakes are easy to make and eat. Non-dairy sources include dried figs, almonds, oranges, and tofu.

  1. Vitamin D is responsible for helping the body absorb calcium and maintain bone density and prevent osteoporosis.

While there are few foods that naturally contain Vitamin D, it can be found in salmon, tuna, and eggs, as well as foods fortified with Vitamin D such as cereal, milk, and juice.

  1. Vitamin B12 is responsible for creating red blood cells and maintaining healthy nerve function.

Older people can’t absorb this essential nutrient as well as younger people, so many aren’t getting enough. The best sources of Vitamin B12 include tofu, fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products.

  1. Fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables promote healthy digestion and can help protect against heart disease.

A few examples include dried figs, nuts, berries, oatmeal, and potatoes with their skins.

  1. Potassium is the essential mineral for cell function.

Potassium also helps to reduce high blood pressure, kidney stones, and, along with sodium, helps to maintain a proper electrolyte balance. Foods particularly rich in potassium are bananas, prunes, plums, avocado, salmon, dark leafy greens, and potatoes with their skin. Avoid taking supplements until speaking with a doctor because too much potassium can be as dangerous as too little.

Getting adequate amounts of these five nutrients will help keep loved ones feeling their best mentally and physically as they age, and many of the foods mentioned are easy for loved ones receiving Orlando in-home care to incorporate into their daily meals and snacks. If you or a loved one need help to manage meals and nutrients, BrightStar Care’s personal care and skilled home-care staff members are here to help. Call BrightStar Care at 1-866-618-7827 for a complimentary in-home assessment.