There’s a persistent misconception that older people need fewer calories than other population groups.
This is completely untrue and is one of the reasons behind dietary deficiencies and even potentially tragic cases of malnutrition among older age groups (1). This is especially so when such misconceptions combine with loss of appetite, seen frequently among those over 70 (2).
To remain healthy post-70, it’s therefore important to maintain a balanced diet that provides sufficient calories, and includes all the macronutrients you need. Following an acid-base diet, for example, can help you eat more healthily (3). And it’s obviously important to also make sure you drink enough fluid.
As explained in another of our articles, the 6 most common nutritional deficiencies, those over 60, let alone over 70, often have specific shortfalls in their diet. Let’s start by looking at minerals.
Many older people are lacking in calcium which can lead to weakening of the bones (4). To remedy this, we’d recommend eating more dairy products, tofu or almonds. You can also take a supplement containing calcium orotate, the form of calcium best absorbed by the body.
Seniors may also be deficient in zinc and iron (5-6). To correct this, you need to eat more meat (though still in moderation so as not to raise your risk of cardiovascular problems) and start supplementing with zinc orotate, (for example, the product Zinc Orotate). For those with diagnosed iron deficiency, there’s the option of taking iron supplements.
In terms of vitamins, it’s common for seniors to have inadequate levels of B9, also known as folic acid or folate. Vitamin B9 is found in poultry offal, lamb’s liver, cooked pulses ... and in supplements (such as Super Folate) (7).
Deficiency in B12 is also widespread in this age group, as the body’s ability to absorb this vitamin declines with age (8). The only solution is to increase B12 intake, ideally with the most absorbable form: methylcobalamin.
As we get older, we also need more vitamin C, because oxidative reactions increase with age (9). As well as supporting normal immune system function, this vitamin helps protect our cells against oxidative stress. Vitamin C is found in lemons, parsley, and red peppers, amongst others, and at higher levels in targeted supplements (such as Triple C).
Last but not least, older people are very often lacking in vitamin D (10). As you know, vitamin D plays a key role in maintaining healthy bones. It’s best to opt for a supplement containing vitamin D3 (such as Vitamin D3 1000 IU), as it has much greater bioavailability than vitamin D2.
The older we get, the greater the intensity not just of our bone demineralisation but our muscle loss too. And while vitamin D also helps to maintain normal muscle function, it is not enough. The best ‘muscle food’ is protein.
To counter age-related loss of muscle, it can help to take protein in powdered form, such as whey (11). This allows you to boost your protein intake, without triggering the satiety induced by eating a meal.
Due again to a lack of variety and quantity in the diet, older people frequently consume too few omega-3 fatty acids (especially EPA and DHA). Yet we know that:
These fatty acids are present in various foods such as mackerel, sardines and herring, as well as in krill oil, an excellent and highly-pure source of omega-3 (you can obtain its benefits by taking the supplement Krill Oil).
To make life easier, many over-70s choose to take synergistic formulations, which combine a number of specific trace-elements and vitamins. There are thus dietary supplements that offer a combination of calcium, magnesium, or vitamin D3, K2... all of which are good for bone health (one such product is Super Bone Formula).
In the case of joint problems, older people often opt for supplements containing extracts of the tree boswellia, the resin of which helps ease joint discomfort (14). The formulation Flexi-Smart, for example, contains boswellia, hyaluronic acid, phytosterols ...
People in their sixties and seventies are often keen to increase their intake of fisetin, a plant pigment with particularly welcome properties (there’s a significant amount in the formulation Senolytic Complex for example) (15).
In the same vein, nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) has also proved to be very popular. This molecule is the most direct precursor of a crucial coenzyme called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), levels of which decline with age (16). Supplementing with NMN is thus popular with seniors (one such product being Nicotinamide Mononucleotide).
It’s important to state that if you’re on any medication, we recommend you consult a health professional before starting to take any dietary supplements.
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