Special Nutrient Needs of Older Adults

Reviewed by Sarah Klemm, RDN, CD, LDN
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Eating right and staying active 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

Adults older than 70 need more calcium and vitamin D to help maintain bone health than they did in their younger years. To meet these needs, select calcium-rich foods and beverages and aim for three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products each day. Other sources of calcium include fortified cereals and fruit juices, dark green leafy vegetables, canned fish with soft bones, and fortified plant-based beverages. Sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, such as salmon, eggs and fortified foods and beverages. If you take a calcium supplement or multivitamin, choose one that contains vitamin D.

Vitamin B12

Some adults older than 50 may not be able to absorb enough vitamin B12. Fortified cereal, lean meat and fish and seafood are sources of vitamin B12. Ask your doctor or a registered dietitian nutritionist if you need a vitamin B12 supplement.

Dietary Fiber

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

Potassium

Consuming adequate potassium, along with limiting sodium (salt) intake, may lower your risk of high blood pressure. Fruits, vegetables, beans and low-fat or fat-free dairy products are all 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

Most of the fats you eat should be polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which are primarily found in nuts, seeds, avocados, vegetable oils and fish. Choose foods that are low in saturated fat to help reduce your risk of heart disease.

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