What the official sources say - Food

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Nutrition and old age

Normal dietary needs in old age What the official sources say Nutritional risks in old age
  • Normal food needs in old age
  • What the official sources say
  • Nutritional risks in old age

What the official sources say

In the latest edition of the LARN document (Recommended levels of intake of nutrients for the Italian population), the Italian Society of Human Nutrition provides detailed information for the various age groups. For the elderly, the levels of intake of nutrients such as proteins, minerals and vitamins are substantially superimposable to those of the adult, with the exception of a lower need for iron (for the disappearance of menstruation) and greater calcium (for the increased risk of osteoporosis) in women. The daily intake of calories (guaranteed by carbohydrates and fats) is instead indicated separately for two age groups (60-74 years; 75 and more) and depending on whether or not physical activity takes place (figure 3). These are obviously purely indicative data since the determination of energy needs requires precise knowledge relating to weight, stature and activity profile, very variable parameters in the elderly population. However, three imported considerations on the daily calorie requirement derive from it:

  1. decreases with advancing age due to the reduction of muscle masses and the progressive decrease in physical activity;
  2. it is less in women, for metabolic reasons and because it is on average smaller than in men;
  3. it is less in the elderly who do not exercise.

Physical activity is the only point on which one can act to maintain higher energy consumption and therefore be able to grant food that is pleasant on the palate but superfluous from a nutritional point of view.

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