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The importance of protein and vitamin D in the elderly population

Nutrition for the elderly is incredibly important, particularly when it comes to muscle mass, bone density and strength.

From the age of 65 the body can be affected by more noticeable anatomical and physiological changes, most common are loss of muscle mass and loss of bone mass, which if left untreated, can impact on the independence of those affected by it.

Protein, in particular amino acids, are the main nutrient needed for muscle health in elderly adults. Due to decreased mobility and therefore being inactive, elderly adults are not able to become anabolic; they cannot build and repair muscle tissue like younger adults.

Having a higher intake of protein, (30-35% of overall calorie intake), is beneficial for muscular health in elderly adults.

You can find high quality protein in the following foods: white meat, fish, eggs, dairy, quinoa, beans, and pulses.

Vitamin D is another important nutrient needed for the body to be able to regulate calcium and phosphate in the body. The nutrients in Vitamin D help keep our bones, teeth, and muscles healthy, and since the body starts to deplete muscle mass at a more rapid rate from the age of 65, and bone density, Vitamin D is very important for the elderly population.

It is recommended that over 65-year-olds should take a 10microgram supplement of Vitamin D per day and get out in the sunlight for 10-15minutes, ensuring they have applied sun cream.

Vitamin D can also be found in these foods: oily fish, red meat, eggs, yoghurt, and fortified foods such as some fat spreads and breakfast cereals.

Keeping active is super important and complements the above.

Are you over 65-years old? Do you suffer with mobility and balance issues? You could be eligible for our Stand Strong, Falls Prevention programme. Find out more about our chair-based exercise class to help maintain and strengthen muscle mass and balance