Nutrition for Adults' Life: Older Adults: Your Needs are Different... Or Are They (WO1015)


November 17, 2015 - Author: Beth Olson

Important factors to good health for older adults

Eat regular meals based on a variety of foods, with moderation in portion sizes. Eat a low-fat, high-fiber diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Be physically active. Drink lots of fluids, especially water. Nutritional supplements should be discussed with your doctor.

Nutrition Programs

Food assistance programs:

Home-delivered and congregate meals Administration on Aging
1-800-677-1116 or

USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Michigan

Nutrition Tips for Older Adults:

  • Prepare meals attractively with lots of color, flavor, shapes, textures and smells
  • Add flavor enhancing ingredients such as herbs and spices
  • Read food labels carefully
  • Eat with other people
  • Eat in a pleasant area

Problem nutrients

Older adults may have problems getting the recommended amount of these nutrients in their diet.

Protein: Men need about 56 grams of protein and women need about 46 grams of protein daily. Good sources of protein are lean meats and fish, low fat dairy and soy products.

Iron, Zinc: Good sources of iron include lean meats, fish, iron-fortified cereal, as well as vegetables such as dark green leafy vegetables, beans and peas. Good sources of zinc are lean meat, fish, whole-grain products, eggs and milk.

Calcium: Older adults need about 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily to maintain strong teeth and bones. Good sources of calcium include low fat dairy products such as low-fat or skim milk, low-fat or fat-free yogurt and cheese, calcium-fortified juice and cereals, and broccoli and greens.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is produced in skin from sunlight. Good food sources of this vitamin include vitamin D fortified milk and cereal.

Physical Activity

Physical activity is important for staying healthy. Here are a few suggestions for how to include activity in your day:

  • Clean the house
  • Garden
  • Play with grand- children
  • Go for a walk with a friend or pet
  • Go bowling
  • Join a community center program
  • Take up a dance class such as ballroom dancing
  • Play a game of tennis or golf
  • Swim or do water exercises (especially good if you have arthritis)

For examples of strength training exercises and other valuable exercises visit: Before beginning an exercise program, check with your doctor and start off slow to avoid overexertion and accidents.

Benefits of Physical Activity

Improves your strength so you can do daily tasks Improves your balance and coordination, so you are less likely to fall Keeps your heart and lungs working well Keeps you from being sick as often Makes you feel good Helps you stay independent

Further Information

Food and Nutrition Information Center
Go to: Lifecycle Nutrition under “Subject,” then go to: Aging

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Consumer Advice for Seniors
Go to: Life Stages under “Subject,” then go to: Seniors


Tags: food & health

Related Topic Areas

Food & Health

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