Canadian seniors are experiencing longer life spans and better health than ever before (Health Canada, 2007). Nutrition is a key factor in the aging population. Having nutritional health is necessary for maintaining overall health and increasing the quality of life (Dietitians of Canada, 2001).

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Seniors Nutritional Requirements

As we age, we lose lean bone mass, especially muscle mass (CHealth, 2009). In order to prevent weakening and malnutrition, seniors require plenty of vitamins and minerals to replenish what is being lost. Consequently, the amount of daily calories burned decreases with age. Therefore, seniors need to add as much vitamins and minerals into their daily diet to ensure proper nutrition (CHealth, 2009).

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Nutritional Guidelines

Malnutrition is common among seniors due to their altered taste, loss of appetite, loss of teeth, difficulties shopping and medication usage. It is important for seniors to choose foods for their diet that are low-fat dairy products, whole grains, lean meats and fruits and vegetables (Veloso, 2009).

Seniors should maximize their intake of fluids, especially water, milk (very important for women) and juices (Veloso, 2009).

Important Guidelines


  • reduce sodium (salt) intake to help reduce the chances of retaining water and hypertension
  • watch fat intake for healthy cholesterol levels
  • consuming more vitamin D and calcium will aid in strengthening bones
  • adding fiber in the diet will help keep bowel movements regular and avoid constipation
  • avoid foods with sugar and preservatives
  • participate in physical activity on a regular basis (Helpguide, 2009)






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    http://helpguide.org/life/senior_nutrition.htm

The 70+ Pyramid

Individuals tend to intake less food as they get older but it's important to realize that because of this, it is essential for seniors to eat the right foods and not just meet the basic caloric intake needs. Caloric intake per day for a senior is typically around 1200-1600 calories and therefore every calorie counts towards getting the essential nutrients. The 70+ Pyramid shows nutrient dense foods in each category focusing on whole grain or enriched breads and cereals, different fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy foods and also lean meats and fish (Baker, 2009).

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By 2041, seniors (Canadians aged 65 years or older) will make up 25% of our population - that's 1 in every 4 people. (CHealth, 2009) Currently, up to 40% of Canadian seniors don't get enough calories and protein on a daily basis (CHealth, 2009).

Seniors who are most at risk for malnutrition are those who live alone, don't eat foods from the 4 food groups, are over 70 years of age, drink more than 6 cups of tea of coffee daily, are house bound, have poor appetite, or are on a budget (Chealth. 2009).

Some signs that a senior that you love is not getting the proper nutrition are decreased appetite, problems chewing or swallowing, tooth loss or pain, weight changes, unable to cook or shop, less social contact, taking lots of medication, or not enough money to buy food (Eatright Ontario, 2009).


Some important vitamins and minerals necessary for nutrition are:


1. Vitamin B12. This vitamin helps maintain and regulate the formation of red blood cells in the body. Unfortunately vitamin B12 absorption decreases with age due to changes in the stomach (CHealth, 2009). Seniors should eat plenty of meat, fish, eggs, and milk in order to maintain B12 health.


2. Vitamin D. This vitamin encourages the absorption of calcium. Vitamin D absorption decreases as we age due to less sun exposure, and our skin begins to make less (CHealth, 2009). Seniors are encouraged to get more vitamin D by eating sardines, salmon, herring, and margarine, as well as drinking plenty of milk (CHealth, 2009).


3. Calcium. Calcium keeps our bones strong (CHealth, 2009). Since osteoporosis is evident in seniors, a high calcium intake is necessary to maintain bone strength. Calcium can be obtained through dairy such as milk, cheese, and yogurt.


4. Zinc. This mineral works to keep our immune system strong (CHealth, 2009). Seniors' immune system begins to slow down due to the aging process. Foods such as turkey, bran cereals, nuts and red meat can help keep their immune system strong (CHealth, 2009).



5. Vitamin B6. This vitamin is essential for a healthy immune system and you need more after age 50. Good sources include potatoes, beans, meat, chicken and fish. If you think you’re not eating enough of these foods, check with your doctor about taking a supplement (Eatright Ontario, 2009).

6. Iron. Iron needs decrease in women over age 50 (from 18 mg of iron down to just 8 mg daily). Men need 8 mg for all of their adult life. Good sources of iron include beef, poultry, beans, leafy greens and fortified breakfast cereals (Eatright Ontario, 2009).
Nutrition for Seniors video


For more information about nutrition for seniors, visit the Canadian Food Guide website at:


http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/index-eng.php






References

Baker, J. (2009). 70 and beyond: what you need to eat. Retrieved from http://www.swedish.org/16180.cfm

CHealth (2009). Nutrition and fitness. Retrieves from http://chealth.canoe.ca

Dieticians of Canada (2001). Retrieved December 6, 2009, from http://www.dieticians.ca/seniors/

Eatright Ontario (2009). Older adults eating well. Retrieved from: http://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/ViewDocument.aspx?id=305&Topic=6&Cat=168

Eatright Ontario (2009). Top 12 surprising sources of sodium. Retrieved from: http://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/ViewDocument.aspx?id=266&Topic=6&Cat=168

Helpguide. (2009). Healthy eating tips for older adults. Retrieved from http://helpguide.org/life/senior_nutrition.htm

Health Canada (2007). Eating well with Canada's food guide. Retrieved December 4, 2009, from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

Veloso, M. (2009). Nutrition guidelines for seniors. Retrieved from http://bodyandhealth.canada.com/channel_section_details.asp?text_id=4542&channel_id=10&relation_id=11002