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Changing Nutritional Needs


Although aging itself is not typically a cause of malnutrition in healthy, active individuals,[4] there are some important changes in nutritional requirements that occur with age.[8]

  • Energy needs decline slightly with age as basal metabolic rate decreases.[3] Sufficient energy intake is still important and an intake of about 1500 kcal/day evenly distributed across food groups is essential for adequate nutrition.[3]

  • Recommended protein intake is controversial, but recent studies suggest an intake of 1.0 g/kg a day (the recommendation for younger people is 0.8g/kg a day).[3] Intake of 0.8g/kg of protein a day may lead to subtle, but significant muscle loss over time in older adults.

  • The prevalence of atrophic gastritis is about 20-50% in the elderly population. The increased stomach pH in this condition may impair the absorption of vitamins C, B12, B6 and folic acid.[3]

  • The intestinal absorption of calcium decreases with age.[3]


What challenges might older adults face in trying to meet their changing nutritional needs?


What health problems that might result from failure to meet these needs?


3. Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada. Nutrition and healthy aging: Workshop on health aging. 2002. Available at: Accessed: August 2005.

4. Wellman, NS, Weddle, DO, Kranz, S, Brain, CT. Elder insecurities: Poverty, hunger and malnutrition. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 1997;97:S120-2.

8. Baines, C, Evans, P, Neysmith, S, Editors. Women’s Caring: Feminist Perspectives on Social Welfare. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, Inc. 1991.

All references for this section