Nutritional Needs for Aging

Elderly_exerciseThere’s no denying that we get wiser with age. However, our bodies also go through less endearing changes including the loss of muscle mass which speeds up in our 60s and 70s. Reduced lean body mass during aging leads to decreases in total body protein and can contribute to increased frailty, impaired wound healing, and decreased immune function.

A combination of nutrition and exercise intervention is the best way to prevent this age-associated decline in lean body mass. Data shows that most adults 65 years and older do not meet recommendations for protein intake. Current protein guidelines are not specific for adults in this age range, but do offer a category for all adults over 50. The Recommended Dietary Allowance suggests consuming 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. This would be roughly 51 grams of protein for a 140 pound female and 65 grams for a 180 pound male.

However, current research has found evidence that older adults require more protein to reduce muscle wasting and maintain physical function capacity. These studies recommend a daily protein intake 60% higher than previously thought.  For the average-sized person, that is between 20-30 grams of protein for each meal.  For a 140 pound post-menopausal woman, this is 65-85 grams and for a 180 pound man it is 82-105 grams/day. Try incorporating some of the protein-rich foods below into your day, and of course, visit a dietitian at Green Lake Nutrition if you have questions about nutritional needs for aging.

Food Protein
1 cup plain Greek yogurt 23 g
3 ounces chicken breast 22 g
3 ounces salmon 17 g
1 cup cooked black beans 15 g
1 cup plain yogurt 10 g
2 tbsp nut butter 8 g
1 egg 7 g
1 cup oatmeal (cooked in water) 6 g
1 slice whole wheat toast 4 g







Source: Today’s Dietitian, 2013 and Paddon-Jones & Leidy. Dietary protein and muscle in older persons. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2014; 17(1):5-11.

Written by Emily, intern at Green Lake Nutrition

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