What should I eat as I get older?

There are a number of questions that can help you to determine your dietary needs as you grow older:
  • What is your ideal body weight, and what steps will help achieve it?
  • Are there medical conditions that could benefit from more attention to nutrition?
  • Are medications, drug or alcohol use affecting nutrition?
  • Would additional testing be useful to diagnose nutritional deficiencies?
You might want to go to a dietitian or nutritionist to get more detailed advice on your dietary needs.
Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
As we age our bodies have decreased cell turnover or growth and therefore require less energy. Fewer calories are needed in your diet as metabolism slows to maintain a healthy weight. It remains important for optimal nutrition that whole foods rich in vitamins and minerals and fiber for fullness are consumed. Nutrient dense foods are whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats found in foods such as olive oil, nuts and avocados, soy or dairy products, beans, and legumes. Limit processed and packaged foods high in saturated fat, sodium and sugar.
Did you know that your nutrient needs change as you get older? It's important to know which foods offer the vitamins and minerals that will promote good health as we age.
  • Calcium and vitamin D -- Older adults need more calcium and vitamin D to help maintain bone health. Have three servings of vitamin D-fortified low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt each day, or other calcium-rich foods such as fortified cereals and fruit juices, dark green leafy vegetables and canned fish with soft bones.
  • Vitamin B12 -- Many people older than 50 do not get enough vitamin B12. Fortified cereal, lean meat and some fish and seafood are sources of vitamin B12.
  • Fiber -- Eat more fiber-rich foods to help stay regular. Fiber also can help lower your risk for heart disease, control your weight and prevent type 2 diabetes.
  • Potassium -- Increasing potassium along with reducing sodium (salt) may lower your risk of high blood pressure. Fruits, vegetables and low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt are good sources of potassium.
  • Know your fats -- Foods that are low in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol help reduce your risk of heart disease. Most of the fats you eat should be polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

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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.