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Changing Nutritional Needs

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Although aging itself is not typically a cause of malnutrition in healthy, active individuals,[4] there are some important changes in nutritional requirements that occur with age.[8]

  • Energy needs decline slightly with age as basal metabolic rate decreases.[3] Sufficient energy intake is still important and an intake of about 1500 kcal/day evenly distributed across food groups is essential for adequate nutrition.[3]

  • Recommended protein intake is controversial, but recent studies suggest an intake of 1.0 g/kg a day (the recommendation for younger people is 0.8g/kg a day).[3] Intake of 0.8g/kg of protein a day may lead to subtle, but significant muscle loss over time in older adults.

  • The prevalence of atrophic gastritis is about 20-50% in the elderly population. The increased stomach pH in this condition may impair the absorption of vitamins C, B12, B6 and folic acid.[3]

  • The intestinal absorption of calcium decreases with age.[3]

1.

What challenges might older adults face in trying to meet their changing nutritional needs?

2.

What health problems that might result from failure to meet these needs?

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3. Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada. Nutrition and healthy aging: Workshop on health aging. 2002. Available at: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/seniors-aines/pubs/workshop_healthyaging/nutrition/nutrition1_e.htm. Accessed: August 2005.

4. Wellman, NS, Weddle, DO, Kranz, S, Brain, CT. Elder insecurities: Poverty, hunger and malnutrition. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 1997;97:S120-2.

8. Baines, C, Evans, P, Neysmith, S, Editors. Women’s Caring: Feminist Perspectives on Social Welfare. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, Inc. 1991.

All references for this section