Special Nutrient Needs of Older Adults

Reviewed by Taylor Wolfram, MS, RDN, LDN
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Eating right and staying fit are important no matter what your age. As we get older our bodies have different needs, so certain nutrients become especially important for good health.

Calcium and Vitamin D

Older adults need more calcium and vitamin D to help maintain bone health. Have three servings of calcium-rich foods and beverages each day. This includes fortified cereals and fruit juices, dark green leafy vegetables, canned fish with soft bones, milk and fortified plant beverages. If you take a calcium supplement or multivitamin, choose one that contains vitamin D.

Vitamin B12

Many people older than 50 do not get enough vitamin B12. Fortified cereal, lean meat and some fish and seafood are sources of vitamin B12. Ask your doctor or a registered dietitian nutritionist if you need a vitamin B12 supplement.

Fiber

Eat more fiber-rich foods to stay regular. Fiber also can help lower your risk for heart disease and prevent Type 2 diabetes. Eat whole-grain breads and cereals, and more beans and peas — along with fruits and vegetables which also provide fiber.

Potassium

Increasing potassium along with reducing sodium (salt) may lower your risk of high blood pressure. Fruits, vegetables and beans are good sources of potassium. Also, select and prepare foods with little or no added salt. Add flavor to food with herbs and spices.

Know Your Fats

Foods that are low in saturated fats and trans fat help reduce your risk of heart disease. Most of the fats you eat should be polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which are primary found in nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil and fish.

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