Calcium and vitamin D are essential for bone repair and maintenance, while vitamin B12 aids in nerve conduction and production of red blood cells. The need for calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12 can increase as with age, and older people in particular may find it difficult to get enough of these nutrients because they may be eating less.
This new pyramid also emphasizes the need for older adults to get regular exercise and adequate fluid intake. Calorie needs usually decline in the elderly because they are less physically active. As older adults tend to eat less food, it becomes even more important to choose foods that are nutrient-rich, such as fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and high-fiber whole grains.
Packaged fruits and vegetables -- frozen vegetables and canned or dried fruit, for instance -- might be good alternatives to fresh varieties for some older adults, say the Food Guide Pyramid authors from Tufts University.
Health Canada also recognizes the specific nutrient needs of older adults. The Canadian Food Guide to Healthy Eating advises adults over age 50 to drink two cups (500 ml) of milk per day for adequate vitamin D intake. A daily supplement of 400 IU vitamin D is also recommended.
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