Be aware of the nutritional changes as you age

By November 3, 2021 Health & Nutrition

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Stiffer joints and looser skin are some obvious signs of aging. As these are external signs they are easier to notice. But internally also there are changes happening especially with your nutritional requirements. Its important to be aware of them and take the necessary steps to manage them well to make it a healthy aging process. The author, in the article below, has shared some important changes and fixes based on the expertise shared by a dietitian. Team RetyrSmart

Be aware of the nutritional changes as you age

  1. You Need Less Iron

After menopause, you’ll likely require less iron. That’s because when you no longer lose blood during monthly menstruation, circulating iron levels stay more consistent (so you need to replace less of it in your diet)

However, some older people may be prone to iron deficiency due to absorption issues or low appetite [more on this later]

Fix It​: Talk with a doctor or registered dietitian about the foods you can eat that contain iron and whether or not you might need a supplement

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  1. You’re More Prone to Dehydration

Getting enough water is essential for your body to function properly, as it helps keep joints lubricated and regulate body temperature, among other things, according to the Cleveland Clinic. So dehydration — which is a common cause of hospitalization in older folks — can pose a dangerous health risk.

Dehydration can happen in older people for many reasons, such as:

  • Less sensitivity to the sensation of thirst
  • A tendency to drink less fluid to decrease bathroom trips when dealing with mobility issues or urinary incontinence
  • The need to restrict fluids due to various health conditions (for example, heart failure)

Fix It: ​ Drink fluids throughout the day even if you don’t feel thirsty

Make a point of sipping H2O every time you pass the sink to wash dishes, rinse fresh produce or clean your hands. If plain water isn’t your thing, add fresh fruit to make it tastier or opt for herbal tea, she says.

  1. You Need Fewer Calories

A slowing metabolism is the main reason why your body needs fewer calories as you age. This decreased metabolism is directly related to age-related muscle loss (known as sarcopenia), according to the Colorado State University Extension.

After the age of 30, you can lose as much as 5 percent of muscle per decade, per Harvard Health Publishing.

Couple this decline of muscle mass with more mobility issues and other age-related health concerns that limit physical activity, and you can see why your caloric needs drop with age, when your body is moving less, it simply requires less energy.

But the fewer calories you take in, the fewer opportunities your body has to fill up on necessary nutrients — and this can lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Fix It:​ Be strategic about what goes on your plate. Eating nutrient-dense foods (focusing on these nutrients for longevity) will help you get the vital vitamins and minerals you need even if you’re getting fewer calories.

Preserving lean muscle mass is a great way to maintain a higher metabolism. Doing so will not only help protect you from injury and falls but makes it easier to have a good appetite, which can lead to eating more and getting more of your daily nutrients.

One way to safeguard against sarcopenia is by eating enough protein. Still, another strategy for building and maintaining muscle (as well as strengthening bones) is strength training. Before you start, talk to your doctor to discuss any health conditions and work with a personal trainer to design a program based on your individual needs and goals.


If you have kidney disease, make sure to speak with your doctor before adding more protein to your diet

  1. Your Appetite May Decrease

This goes along with that decrease in metabolism

But on top of that, certain medications, health issues and taste changes can all contribute to feeling less hungry (or filling up faster) when you’re older. Once again, the problem is, if you’re not eating enough, you could be lacking the essential nutrients your body needs to stay healthy.

Fix It:​ Try eating small meals and snacks throughout the day. If you’re losing weight without meaning to, work with a dietitian to develop a strategy for eating a bit more despite not feeling hungry

  1. Your Ability to Absorb Certain Nutrients Decreases

As you age, your ability to absorb and utilize certain nutrients becomes less effective. That’s partly because your body produces fewer digestive substances. For example, older people may have a problem absorbing vitamin B12 due to decreased stomach acidity.

Similarly, some medications alter the way nutrients are absorbed or metabolized. Anticonvulsants, for instance, can reduce folate absorption.

Fix It: ​ Sometimes simply eating more of certain foods can help meet nutrient needs..

In some cases, coupling specific foods together can be a smart way to get the right amount of nutrients. For instance, pairing foods containing iron with vitamin C-rich foods can help increase iron absorption

Still, in other cases, some older folks may need supplementation. Your doctor can help assess which nutrients your body may be lacking due to absorptive challenges

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