Nutritional Requirements

Normal and Therapeutic Nutrition 3(2+1)
Lesson 17:Old Age–Nutritional Requirement

Nutritional Requirements

These are based on physiological changes that take place during old age.

RDA for old age people

Sex Body weight (kg) Energy requirements BMR(k cal) Sedentary work(k cal)
Males 45 1040 1664

50 1105 1768

55 1170 1872

60 1235 1976

70 1360 2280
Female 40 0965 1544

45 1015 1624

50 1065 1704

55 1115 1784

60 1165 1864

65 1215 1944

70 1265 2024


Energy requirement decreases with decreased BMR, physical activity and change in body composition due to sarcopenia (reduced muscle mass and tissue mass).


  • Decrease in skeletal tissue mass leads to decrease in protein stores and are inadequate to meet protein synthesis.
  • Protein needs represent 11-12% of energy intake.
  • Protein intake 1 g/kg body weight in both the sexes.
  • Serum albumin levels are the reliable indicators of protein nutrition.
  • Deficiency leads to oedema, anaemia and lowered resistance to infection.


An impaired glucose tolerance in the elderly can lead to hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia and Type II Diabetes mellitus. To avoid this :

  • Balanced energy intake, weight management, and regular physical activity
  • Complex carbohydrates like whole grains and pulses should be included in the diet.
  • Carbohydrates should meet 50% of energy requirement


Reducing the intake of saturated fat, incorporating mono or poly unsaturated fat sources.


Calcium: Requirement is more in old age due to

  • Calcium availability from limited number of foods
  • Age related bone loss, demineralization of bones and osteoporosis and to improve calcium balance
  • Increase in the prevalence of fractures and dental decay.
  • Decreased calcium absorption efficiency and decline in vitamin-D levels.
Women above 50 yrs need 1000mg/day for development of bone mass.

Iron: Deficiency is found due to

  • Inadequate iron intake
  • Blood loss due to chronic disease
  • Decreased non heam iron absorption
  • Secondary achloryhdria/atrophic gastritis
  • Decreased intake of vitamin-C

Requirement is 30 mg/day

Zinc: Elderly who avoid fleshy foods are at risk of developing zinc deficiency

Symptoms: Delayed wound healing, low taste sensitivity and anorexia.


The requirements of antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin E, ?-carotene and vitamin increase.

Vitamin-C: Protects cellular immunity.

Vitamin-D: requiremenrt increases as the elderly are at risk due to decreased exposure to sunlight or renal mass.

Folacin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12: Protect against elevated serum homocysteine, a risk factor of cardiovascular diseases, depression and neurological defects.

Water: Kidney functions more efficiently if sufficient water of 1.5 lts is provided to eliminate solids thus preventing constipation.

Last modified: Monday, 24 October 2011, 9:58 AM