According to Statistics Canada 2015, 16% percent of the Canadian population, or approximately one in six people, are over the age of 65. This number is expected to increase reaching 20.1% by July 2024.
As we age our health needs change, including our dietary needs. The following points outline the main dietary priorities for those 65 years old and over:
Sarcopenia, an age-related reduction of muscle mass and strength affects 35-45% of people over the age of 65. It is advised that older adults include a source of high quality protein at each meal in moderate amounts to combat and prevent the process of sarcopenia.
Dietary protein provides necessary amino acids and stimulates muscle synthesis. Eggs, fish, poultry, lean red meat and legumes are some excellent sources. Eating a diet adequate in protein and incorporating resistance training in your exercise routine will help to sustain and build your muscles. Strong muscles will support mobility and functionality for years to come.
Dehydration is more common in older adults. In fact, one in three do not drink adequate fluid. Some of this can be blamed on the age-related decline of our thirst sensation.
To keep fluids in check surround yourself with a visual reminder such as a glass of water nearby, and monitor your urine colour (it should be pale yellow). Aim for eight cups of fluid daily, but drink more when outside in hot weather and when exercising. Good fluid sources include water, milk, caffeine-free beverages and soups.
Calcium and Vitamin D
According to Health Canada, 25% of women and approximately 13% of men over the age of 50 are estimated to have osteoporosis (brittle bones). Although there are many factors involved in bone health, nutrition plays an important role in the maintenance of strong bones. Getting enough Calcium and Vitamin D daily is vital to protect your bones and reduce the risk of fractures. Incorporate dairy or calcium enriched foods in your diet and consult your Registered Dietitian to find out if you need to take a vitamin D supplement.
A high prevalence of a stomach condition called atrophic gastritis and the use of certain medications are some of the factors that contribute to reduced Vitamin B12 absorption in 10-30% of older adults. If left untreated, Vitamin B12 deficiency may lead to neurological, psychological and physiological symptoms such as numbness and tingling, loss of memory and fatigue.
Animal products including meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, milk, cheese and eggs contain vitamin B12. Your Copeman Registered Dietitian can help you determine if you are meeting your needs for vitamin B12.