How do my nutritional needs differ as I age?

Alberta Scruggs
Nutrition & Dietetics

Through one's lifecycle, a variation in kcalorie (energy), and nutrient needs occur. Variations are seen during these stages:

Infancy/childhood: Kcalorie and nutrient needs (especially fat and protein), are high due to rapid cell growth.

Adolescence: Calcium and vitamin D needs increase due to bone growth. Iron needs (for the female), increase due to menses.

Female Childbearing Age: Folate/folic acid needs increase to help prevent neural tube defects in newborns.

Middle-aged Adult: Kcalorie (energy) and certain nutrient needs (calcium / fat) decrease. Growth spurts no longer exist.

Older Adult: Calcium and protein needs may increase due to mal absorption or other medical conditions. Fiber needs increase to assist in bowel function. Fat, sodium and added sugar amounts are reduced to prevent / manage health conditions. An increase of micronutrients (vitamins/minerals) and water may be necessary due to use of medications, chewing difficulty, poor appetite, etc.


Alan Gaby
Nutrition & Dietetics
The Recommended Dietary Allowances for some nutrients (such as calcium. vitamin D, and vitamin B6) increase as we approach old age. Factors that may increase nutrient requirements include a decreased capacity to absorb nutrients in the gastrointestinal tract and to synthesize vitamin D in the skin from sunlight. Changes in our metabolism also contribute to increased requirements. Many multivitamin-multimineral preparations designed for seniors take into account their increased nutrient requirements.
Susan Evans
As you age, your body has different nutritional requirements. When you are in your 40s you need a low-fat and high-fiber diet complete with Omega-3 essential fatty acids. This will help reduce your calories, boost your metabolism, and keep your heart healthy too.

During your 50s, calcium and phytoestrogens become extra important nutritional needs. If you find yourself suddenly struggling with weight gain due to hormonal changes, you will also need to reduce your calories and modify your lifestyle with increased healthy activities.

As you progress through your 60s, you need to maintain a balanced diet. Increasing your fiber intake can help combat some bowel problems that become more common during this age range.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.