Increased Nutrient Requirements for Seniors


Increased Nutrient Requirements for Seniors

17 Jan, 2018

There’s plenty of discussion going on about healthy eating for different age groups, such as adults, children, toddlers and infants. However, there is a significant lack of chatter when it comes to the importance of elderly nutrition- a strong contributor to ageing well.

Sometimes, we forget how our body functions differently with age, and nutrient requirements also alter with age. These common changes may sound familiar:

As we age,

  • Slower digestion: food stays in the body for a longer period of time as it is processed slower and the absorption of nutrients and fluids into the body is also less effective. This may explain the lack of appetite.
  • Slower metabolism: if you find yourself putting on weight more easily, it is because your body is burning lesser calories due to slower metabolism. Your energy requirement decreases with age.
  • Weaker sense of taste: you find yourself adding more salt or sugar to your meals, that is because your taste buds aren’t working as well as they used to. In fact, they are about 20-30% less sensitive as compared to your younger years.

With diminished digestion and metabolism, it is crucial to ensure that every bite counts! During this period, your body needs the following three main nutrients more than ever to function optimally; protein, calcium and vitamin D.


Generally, muscle mass decreases with age. That being said, the presence of protein in the body assists in maintaining muscle mass. It is therefore extremely important to have enough protein in your meals to negate muscle loss.

Good sources of protein include lean meats, poultry, fish, dairy (milk, yoghurt, cheese) and eggs.

Calcium and Vitamin D

Think of calcium and vitamin D as hammer and nails- they work hand in hand to maintain bone health. Osteoporosis used to be common mostly amongst the senior population. Unfortunately in this day and age, the young adult population is also experiencing or at risk of developing weak bones. This stresses the importance of these nutrients in all age groups, especially in the golden age.

Great sources of calcium and vitamin D include dairy (milk, yoghurt, cheese), fatty fish (tuna, mackerel), dark leafy greens and calcium/vitamin D fortified foods (cereals, oatmeal). The sun provides a natural source of vitamin D, so it is a good idea to spend some time in the sun!

Lastly, every person has different and unique nutritional requirements. If you would like further assistance in tailoring a nutrition plan for you with our dietitian, please contact us today.