Aging is associated with a number of physiological changes, including muscle loss, thinner skin, and decreased stomach acid. Some of these changes may predispose you to nutrient deficiencies, while others may have an impact on your senses and quality of life. Low stomach acid affects absorption of B12, calcium, iron, and magnesium (1, 2Trusted Source). Aging reduces calorie needs. This poses a dietary problem. Older folks need as much, or more, nutrients while eating less calories.
NEEDING LESS FOOD, BUT MORE VITAMINS AND MINERALS Since older people tend to move and exercise less and have less muscle, they may need fewer calories to stay the same weight. If you keep eating the same number of calories per day as you did when you were younger, you could easily gain weight, especially around your stomach. Protein, vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin B12 are all nutrients that become more important as you age.
NEEDING MORE PROTEIN As you get older, it’s common to lose muscle and strength. Sarcopenia is the name for this loss of muscle mass and strength. More protein in your diet could help your body keep muscle and fight sarcopenia.
NEEDING MORE FIBRE People over 40 might have trouble having regular bowel movements. Constipation might get better if you eat more fibre. It goes through the gut without being broken down, which helps make stool and encourages regular bowel movements.
NEEDING MORE CALCIUM AND VITAMIN D Two of the most important nutrients for bone health are calcium and vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, which helps build and keep healthy bones. When your skin is exposed to sunlight, your body can use the cholesterol in your skin to make vitamin D. But as people get older, their skin can get thinner, which makes it less able to make vitamin D. To make up for the effects of getting older on your vitamin D and calcium levels, you need to eat and take more calcium and vitamin D.
YOU ARE MORE SENSITIVE TO DEHYDRATION. Staying hydrated is important at any age because your body constantly loses water, primarily through sweat and urine. Long-term dehydration can cause a decrease in the fluid in your cells, reducing your ability to absorb medicine, worsening medical conditions, and increasing fatigue. If you have trouble drinking water, try having one to two glasses of water with each meal. Otherwise, try carrying a water bottle with you throughout the day.
YOU MAY FIND IT DIFFICULT TO EAT ENOUGH FOOD.
Changes in hormones, taste and smell, as well as changes in life circumstances, can all cause older adults to lose their appetite. If you have trouble eating large meals, try dividing them into smaller portions and eating them every few hours.
Otherwise, try to make a habit of eating healthy snacks like almonds, yoghurt, and boiled eggs, which are high in nutrients and low in calories.
Changes that come with getting older can make you more likely to not get enough calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, magnesium, and a few other important nutrients. It may also make it harder for you to notice things like hunger and thirst.
You can take steps to avoid these problems, which is good news.
Make an effort to keep track of how much water and food you’re taking in, eat a variety of foods that are high in nutrients, and think about taking a supplement.
All of these things can help you stay healthy as you age and fight off deficiencies.