In 2010, experts from the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, National Institutes of Health, and USDA teamed up to present a study on senior nutrition. During that presentation, several facts came out.
The key points were:
- Older adults need fewer calories due to changes in the metabolism and activity levels.
- Older adults’ bodies become less effective at processing certain nutrients.
- Chronic health conditions and medication use can impact how well the body uses or processes certain nutrients.
Another area was explored and that involved the nutrients that seniors are not getting enough of. Take time to look at your parents’ diets and see if they are getting enough of these vitamins and minerals. It’s very likely they’re not, but you can change that.
Vitamins B6 and B12 are important to nervous system function. B6 has been tied to a higher risk of depression and a decline in cognitive function. Vitamin B12 deficiencies can impact balance, cognitive function, and pain, tingling, or numbness related to impaired nerve function.
You’ll find plenty of B12 in fish like salmon, sardines, trout, and tuna. It’s in eggs, clams, and fortified juices and cereals. B6 is present in eggs, dairy products, soybeans, whole grains, poultry, pork, and many types of fish.
Vitamin D and calcium help prevent osteoporosis. You need calcium for strong bones. While your parents can get some vitamin D from the sun, the fears of skin cancer limit the amount of time people spend in the sun without using sunscreen.
Instead, you’ll get vitamin D and calcium in dairy products, and fish like mackerel, salmon, sardines, and tuna. It’s also in fortified juices and cereals and egg yolks.
Magnesium helps both the bones and the heart. It’s found in many fruits and vegetables. Keep avocados, bananas, legumes, and spinach on hand to boost magnesium levels.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that aids the immune system. While older adults may be taking vitamin E supplements, stomach acids tend to deplete the amount of vitamin E that reaches the bloodstream.
Instead of supplements, make sure your parents are eating plenty of nuts and seeds. Sunflower seeds, peanuts, and almonds are all good choices. You’ll also find vitamin E in leafy green vegetables and peanut or sunflower oil.
Help your parents make better food choices by hiring homecare services like meal preparation and grocery shopping. Homecare providers can work with caregivers to find ways to boost the nutrients in their favorite meals. The caregivers can take them shopping and cook meals. Call our homecare agency to discuss prices and make arrangements.