Nutritional Needs for the Elderly to Improve Their Health

12Oaks-Smiling senior woman and middle aged-ss-Nutritional Needs For Elderly To Improve Their Health-Feature

In This Article

From gray hair, wrinkles, and frailer joints to hormonal changes, muscle loss, and insomnia, seniors frequently undergo many changes as they approach their golden years. More than affecting overall well-being, changes brought on by aging are known to eventually contribute to seniors’ continual struggle to meet their nutritional needs in later years.

As people age, their nutritional needs change. How does aging affect nutritional requirements, and what dietary changes can help seniors stay healthy and active in their later years? How can adult children encourage their aging parents to adopt a healthy diet for optimal health and longevity?

Let’s go over some nutritional needs for the elderly and special dietary considerations for increasing longevity and improving general health.


What to Put On Your Seniors’ Plates When They Are Over 65

How Does Aging Affect Nutritional Needs in the Elderly?

It is estimated that one out of every two older adults combats malnutrition in the U.S. alone, meaning nearly half of American seniors don’t receive enough nutrients to lead a healthy life.

Atrophic gastritis, commonly found in older adults aged 60 and above, is one of the leading contributors to seniors’ nutritional challenges. The condition causes the stomach to produce less acid, hindering its ability to digest foods and absorb nutrients effectively. Significant shifts in taste buds may cause seniors to lose interest in their favorite foods, whereas a less acute sense of thirst may put seniors at risk of dehydration.

Other contributing factors to varying degrees of malnutrition and poor nutrition in seniors include:

  • Inactive lifestyles
  • Dietary needs change
  • Dietary restrictions for illness management and treatment
  • Swallowing and chewing problems due to ill-fitting dentures
  • Inability to shop for groceries and cook for themselves
  • Dementia and memory loss
  • Stress, anxiety, and depression


A combination of the above factors means that seniors are unable to consume the recommended serving sizes, protein, calories, fiber, and vitamins, giving rise to the emergence of malnutrition.

Insufficient consumption of necessary nutrients can derail the body’s internal system and vital organs. When seniors are malnourished, they are more susceptible to diseases and age-related physical and mental health conditions, such as fatigue, depression, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and more.


Nutrition Checklist: Key Nutrients for Seniors to Stay Healthy

While everyone needs specific nutrition depending on their diet and lifestyle, many nutrients are essential for seniors to maintain good health and promote healthy aging in the coming years. Essential nutrients that seniors need to load up on their plates include:



12Oaks-Different natural food on table. High protein diet-ss-1 Protein

Since protein is vital for developing and maintaining muscle mass, function, and strength, seniors eating low-protein diets are more likely to lose muscle strength as they age. Low muscle mass can make it more challenging for seniors to remain independent and proceed with their daily lives, especially when they have no outside assistance. Health experts recommend that the ideal protein intake should be at least 0.8 to 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight per day.

Help your parents consume more protein with the following sources:

  • Fish and seafood: lobsters, mussels, crab, prawns, oysters, scallops, and clams
  • Lean meats: beef, lamb, pork, veal
  • Poultry: duck, chicken, turkey, goose, emu
  • Nuts and seeds: walnuts, macadamias, almonds, pine nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds
  • Legumes and beans: lentils, chickpeas, tofu, split peas
  • Dairy products: milk, yogurt, egg, cheese



12Oaks-Natural sources of Calcium-ss-2 Calcium

When seniors have calcium deficiencies, a seemingly insignificant fall can lead to fractures, increased mortality, chronic pain, and loss of independence. In addition to weaker and brittle bones, calcium deficiencies are associated with abnormal heart rhythms, tingling and numbness sensations on the fingers, and seizures. Women over the age of 51 are recommended to consume at least 1,200 milligrams daily. Men between the ages of 51 and 70 should target at least 1,000 milligrams per day, and 1,200 milligrams per day for those 71 and above.

Help your parents consume more calcium with the following food sources:

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Almonds
  • Winter squash
  • Rhubarb
  • Fig
  • Edamame and tofu products
  • Canned sardines, salmon
  • Seeds: sesame seeds, chia seeds, celery, poppy.
  • Beans and lentils:
  • Leafy greens: bok choy, spinach, mustard, collard, broccoli.
  • Calcium-fortified products


Dietary Fiber

12Oaks-Foods rich in Fiber-ss-3 Dietary Fiber

Beyond the crucial role in the microbiome system and gut health, dietary fiber can help seniors achieve better physical performance, improved cognitive function, increased longevity, enhanced metabolic function, and reduced risk of heart diseases. Women should consume at least 22 grams of fiber, and men should aim for at least 28 grams per day.

Help your parents consume more fiber with the following food sources:

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Avocados
  • Berries
  • Dried foods
  • Apples
  • Whole grains
  • Potatoes
  • Kidney beans, split beans, chickpeas
  • Lentils


Vitamin C

12Oaks-Foods rich in natural vitamin Css-4 Vitamin C

As a potent antioxidant, vitamin C helps the body outnumber the invasion of growing free radicals in exposure to harmful external factors like sunlight, pollutants, and chemicals. It also helps to speed up wound recovery, support brain function, strengthen the immune system, and facilitate iron absorption, among other health advantages. Many studies suggest that the abundant vitamin in citrus fruits can improve vision and eye health, lowering the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. The recommended daily vitamin C intake is 75 milligrams for women and 90 milligrams for men per day, with an upper limit of 20,000 milligrams a day.

Help your parents consume more vitamin C with the following food sources:

  • Citrus fruits: orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit.
  • Peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Blackcurrants
  • Potatoes
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Guavas
  • Cantaloupe
  • Mustard spinach
  • Kiwis
  • Kale


Vitamin D

12Oaks-Foods rich in natural vitamin D. Balanced diet-ss-5 Vitamin D

Soaking up the sunshine and adopting a diet rich in vitamin D help seniors prevent the development of osteoporosis, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and cognitive decline. According to the dietary guidelines, adults between the ages of 51 and 70 are recommended to consume 600 international units of vitamin D per day. The recommended vitamin D intake increases to 800 international units per day for female and male adults aged 71 and above.

Help your parents consume more vitamin D with the following food sources:

  • Fortified products: orange juices, cereals, dairy, and plant milk.
  • Fish: salmon, swordfish, tuna, sardines, herring, mackerel.
  • Red meats
  • Beef liver
  • Egg yolk
  • Mushrooms


Vitamin A

12Oaks-Fresh vegetables on white board-pxls-6 Vitamin A

Vitamin A contributes to a healthy aging process, as it plays a significant role in oxidative processes and immune function. Seniors consuming inadequate amounts of vitamin A are more likely to get sick due to weakened immune systems, leading to greater chances of contracting other health problems and complications. The vitamin is also vital for vision and skin health. Men aged 51 and older are advised to consume 900 micrograms RAE, while women of the same age should aim for 700 micrograms RAE.

Help your parents consume more vitamin A with the following food sources:

  • Leafy greens: kale, spinach, broccoli, chard.
  • Orange and yellow vegetables: carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, summer squash, pumpkin.
  • Fruits: mango, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit, tangerine, nectarine, apricot.
  • Tomatoes
  • Red bell peppers
  • Fish oils
  • Beef liver
  • Eggs
  • Milk


Vitamin B12

12Oaks-Sources of Vitamin B12-ss-7 Vitamin B12

Low vitamin B12 has been associated with extreme tiredness, muscle weakness, dementia, multiple sclerosis, psychosis, and depression. According to the dietary guideline, women and men of age 51 and above are recommended to take 2.4 micrograms daily.

Help your parents consume more vitamin B12 with the following sources:

  • Animal livers and kidneys: lamb, veal, beef
  • Clams
  • Fish: trout, sardines, tuna, salmon.
  • Beef
  • B12-fortified products
  • Eggs



12Oaks-Food containing magnesium and potassium-ss-8 Potassium

The body needs potassium for contracting muscles and maintaining a harmonious brain, heart, and nerve functioning. Eating a diet rich in potassium is proven effective in achieving better overall health and reducing the risk of age-related health conditions, such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, kidney stones, and stroke. The daily recommended dosage of potassium is 4,700 milligrams a day.

Help your parents consume more potassium with the following food sources:

  • Beans and lentils
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Winter squash: butternut, acorn.
  • Spinach, Swiss chard, broccoli, bok choy
  • Bananas
  • Avocados
  • Beets
  • Coconut water


Folate (Vitamin B9)

12Oaks-Healthy food, sources of folic acid-ss-9 Folate (Vitamin B9)

Since folate (or folic acid) is critical for the functioning of the nervous system, seniors need to consume sufficient folate throughout the day to improve their cognitive function and prevent hearing loss and the risk of depression. Adults aged 51 and above should aim for around 400 micrograms of folate daily.

Help your parents consume more folate with the following food sources:

  • Folic acid-fortified cereals and grains
  • Broccoli and Brussels sprouts
  • Asparagus
  • Leafy greens: kale, spinach, cabbage, spring greens.
  • Peas
  • Kidney beans and chickpeas
  • Beef liver
  • Legumes
  • Beets
  • Citrus fruits
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Papaya
  • Wheat germ



12Oaks-Food sources of omega 3-ss-10 Omega-3

Omega-3s are proven essential for our brain, sperm cells, and eyes. As it reduces inflammation, these fatty acids provide several health benefits in preventing Alzheimer’s, arthritis, heart disease, and macular degeneration. Although essential for various bodily functions, our bodies can’t produce or make omega-3s . Still, they must scrape them from foods and dietary supplements.

Help your parents consume more omega-3s with the following food sources:

  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Herring
  • Cod liver oils
  • Sardines
  • Oysters
  • Caviar
  • Anchovies
  • Chia seeds and flaxseed
  • Walnuts
  • Soybeans


Nutritional Needs in Elderly: Special Considerations on How to Eat Well

Eating well doesn’t only help seniors to scrape off a few pounds and maintain a shaped body frame. Still, a healthy, balanced diet also benefits them mentally, physically, and emotionally.

In other words, most seniors consuming sufficient nutrients have more energy and capacity to pick up their bodies, venture out, and join many enjoyable physical activities. Regular connection with others can help seniors ward off boredom, isolation, and loneliness.

Here are some special considerations for guiding your parents to eat well to improve their health and stay healthy.

  • Drink plenty of water — 6-8 cups of water or fluid daily.
  • Watch the alcohol intake —telling your parents to quit drinking and reminding them to consume no more than two glasses a day is best.
  • Adopt a balanced diet — a wide range of foods such as whole grains, lean proteins, fiber, and colorful veggies.
  • Stay away from processed and canned foods.
  • Limit high-cholesterol foods.
  • Limit foods in high saturated fat — replace them with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
  • Limit sodium consumption or added salt — use less salt when cooking.
  • Limit foods and beverages loaded with added sugars — swap sugary drinks with fresh juices and teas.
  • Stay physically active — exercise at least 2-3 times a week.
  • Talk to their doctors about recommended serving portions and dosages.


Eat Well to Stay Well at 12 Oaks Communities

In our communities, we want everyone to have a healthy mind, body, and spirit. We work closely with a nutrition coach to meet resident’s dietary needs. We work hard to find new recipes and offer well-catered food menus that increase our resident’s nutritional intake and help them meet their dietary needs neatly without them tasting a difference!


If you have questions about the nutritional needs of the elderly or any topics discussed here, connect with us and learn more. 

At 12 Oaks, our team of caring professionals is dedicated to keeping residents safe, engaged, and connected to their families and friends while leading fulfilling lives. 12 Oaks senior living communities are an ideal place to enjoy the encore season of life.

For questions or to schedule a personalized tour, don’t hesitate to contact us. 


Searching for senior living help? At 12 Oaks Senior Living, we would love to learn more about your unique needs and the opportunity we may have to help you meet them. Our blog is one of the valuable resources we provide to inform and encourage seniors to lead fulfilling and thriving lives. Contact us today to schedule a visit.

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