As people grow older, they need fewer calories but more nutrients to maintain proper health. One reason is that, in general, people burn fewer calories during physical activity when they age. But, even the most active aging body gradually loses lean muscle tissue, and less muscle translates to a lower calorie requirement. At the same time, however, the need for several nutrients goes up—or at least remains the same—in order for the body to run at peak efficiency as the years pass.

“Unfortunately, there is a problem for older adults who want to eat as well as possible,” says Ram Chaudhari, executive vice president and chief scientific officer at Fortitech. “In addition to their activity level, their appetites decrease, even though they need to consume more nutrients to compensate for the effects of aging.”

The loss of appetite does not usually result in serious nutrient deficiencies that cause problems such as scurvy (a severe vitamin C deficiency) or pellagra (too little of the B vitamin niacin). But the elderly often have what are known as sub-clinical deficiencies that impact the body's ability to maintain itself as well as it should. Many older adults, for example, do not take in enough vitamin B6, which plays a key role in keeping the immune system functioning properly and can help ward off illness.

Similarly, many older adults do not consume enough vitamin D, which they need to preserve bone density. It is not as though too little vitamin D will directly lead to broken bones but, without enough vitamin D, the loss of bone density that occurs naturally with aging will be accelerated. This increases the risk for fractures, stooped posture and other effects of osteoporosis.

“The fact is, because of their normal lifestyle and eating habits, older people need to pack more vitamins and minerals into fewer calories,” explains Chaudhari. “That means eating nutrient-dense, fortified foods and/or food supplements in conjunction with making better food choices—such as eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low- and non-fat dairy foods, lean meats and fewer high-calorie, nutrient-poor snacks and desserts.”

For 20 years, Fortitech, one of the world leaders in custom nutrient premixes, has created premixes that, in part, target health and medical conditions such as osteoporosis, high cholesterol and blood pressure, diabetes and cognitive health.

For more information:
Fortitech, Schenectady, N.Y.
Mark Fanion • 518-372-5155