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Four nutrients older adults need for nutrition and health

Riddle Hospital February 4, 2014 General Wellness

Getting adequate nutrition as you age can be a challenge, but it’s a priority when it comes to maintaining a healthy body and mind.“As we age our nutritional needs change,” explains Aaron Best, DO, primary care physician at Riddle Hospital. “Our bodies become less efficient at absorbing nutrients and we start to experience some changes in our metabolism. With factors like this that we can’t control, it becomes especially important to make sure that we’re supplying our bodies with the right foods.”

Not only is good nutrition important for a healthy diet, but it can help ward off age-related diseases like certain cancers, iron deficiency, heart disease, and osteoporosis. Below, Dr. Best lists the key nutrients seniors need for a healthy diet, and what foods contain them.


Calcium has a few roles in the body, but its most important one is maintaining strong bones. Look for calcium-rich foods like kale, broccoli, dairy products, and juices that have been fortified with calcium.


Like calcium, potassium is important for bone health, but it can also benefit cell function and reduce high blood pressure. Fruits and veggies are the best sources of potassium, particularly potatoes, plums, bananas, and prunes. Too much potassium can be dangerous to your health, so try to avoid potassium supplements unless you’ve cleared it with your doctor first.

Omega-3 fats

Omega-3 fats are typically associated with fish, but it can also be found in soybeans, walnuts, flaxseed, and canola oil. This healthy fat lowers triglyceride levels and the risk of abnormal heart rhythms, and has also been suggested to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and keep the brain sharp.


Fiber is healthy for anyone at any age, but it’s particularly beneficial because it can protect against heart disease, which becomes a more important concern as we age. Look for whole grains, nuts, beans, fruits, and vegetables for daily fiber.

On top of these, make sure you’re staying hydrated. Drinking water is the best way to re-hydrate and is the nutritional need that never expires. Try to drink water most of the time and limit your intake of alcohol and sugary drinks.

Everyone’s nutritional needs will vary. If you have dietary restrictions or specific needs, talk to your physician about what else you need to add to your diet or how you can make sure you’re getting the proper nutrients. To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.