The nutritional requirements are the needs that living organisms have of the different nutrients for their optimal growth, maintenance and functioning in general.
The nutritional quantities vary depending on the species, the sex and the age , or rather, the moment of the development of the individual.
In older people, the needs of the different nutrients and micronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, water) do not differ much from those calculated for younger adults.
Nutritional requirements according to age
Energy needs in older people are less than in younger people; On average, they decrease by 10% every decade from the age of 60 , due to a decrease in active cell mass and physical activity. In the elderly, fewer calories should be consumed , since if the same intake is maintained as in adulthood, there is a risk of presenting obesity or aggravating it. Approximately, there is talk of a consumption of 2,200 kilocalories in sedentary 65-year-old men and 1,850 in women of the same age and characteristics.
Regarding proteins, although there is a decrease in lean mass, that is, in the amount of muscle, there is also an increase in the use of proteins (and their basic elements, amino acids) at the level of viscera such as liver and intestines. These factors balance the situation, so that protein needs are the same in geriatric age as in adulthood , that is, about 0.8 g per kg of body weight per day. However, an amount of 1g per kilo of weight per day is usually recommended, to ensure the supply of essential amino acids (those that our body cannot synthesize), even in the presence of gastrointestinal or infectious diseases or stress. It is recommended that the intakeof protein makes up about 10% of the total calories in the diet.
Lipid intake , in general, should be reduced , above all because energy is obtained from them and, as already mentioned, energy needs are lower. In addition, it is interesting to reduce its consumption in order to prevent cardiovascular diseases. However, there are also essential fatty acids, that is, the basic and fat-forming elements, which cannot be synthesized in the human body, the lack of which causes pathology. For this reason, intakes of polyunsaturated fats must be ensured: vegetables and oily fish , better than fats of animal origin. They should not exceed 30% of caloric intake.
It is recommended to slightly reduce the consumption of carbohydrates or carbohydrates, since energy needs decrease , especially at the expense of fast absorption simple sugars (glucose, lactose, fructose) and maintain slow absorption sugars, starches (long chains glucose and other monosaccharides). They should represent, despite everything, between 55 and 60% of the total caloric intake.
Water , considered an essential nutrient for maintaining metabolism, continues to be essential in older people, despite the decrease in the body’s water content . The intake of at least 2 liters of fluids per day (water, juices, broths, infusions, etc.) is recommended as the ideal, however, and assuming that the decrease in the feeling of thirst makes it very difficult to reach these amounts, it is assumed as desirable that at least it is not less than one and a half litres.
Minerals and vitamins
As for minerals , despite the fact that their basal needs are not substantially different from those of adulthood, there are difficulties in their absorption and use , so it is recommended to increase their quantity in the diet, as happens for example with iron and calcium , which may have decreased absorption due to atrophic gastritis and increased needs due to chronic diseases or hormonal alterations.
Regarding vitamins and trace elements (minerals that the body needs in very small quantities, but which are essential) there are usually no deficiencies in the case of a varied diet. However, certain pathological situations can hinder its absorption , such as gastric problems that prevent the absorption of vitamin B12, which causes anemia and neurological problems in extreme cases.
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