The elderly in the future are different

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In the future, we will experience some very diverse nutritional needs from the elderly. Nevertheless, some nutritional needs can be generalized. Get the great research coverage made by INCluSilver.

As part of the INCluSilver project, which Danish Food Cluster is a part of, the University of Surrey has made a literature review on the research within the area of nutrition for the elderly. This research is the first step to be taken in the process of developing personalised nutrition for the silver population.

Generalised recommendations

Here are the overall nutritional conclusions and recommendations for the elderly population from the review:

Micronutrients

Vitamins

  • The review suggest that elderly with a low vitamin C level experience an improved health from an increased vitamin C supplement.
  • It has not been proven that a multivitamin supplement has an effect on health.
  • The review suggest that a low vitamin E intake is related to poor health.
  • The recommendations based on the review is that the elderly should increase their folate intake only when their folate level is low and their B12 level is high, but not when their folate level is high, as this is associated with poor health outcomes.

Minerals

  • Studies confirm that calcium supplements have a positive effect on general health and other studies show that a higher calcium intake is associated with good bone health.
  • The review suggest that magnesium supplements improve health.
  • Neither a high or low level of iron is healthy for the elderly.

Macronutrients

Protein

  • Studies show that protein supplements have a positive effect on muscle strength. Moreover, other studies show that protein intake leads to positive health benefits.

Fat

  • The recommendations based on the review suggest that intake of omega-3 fatty acids has a positive effect on health.
  • The review suggest that an intake of monounsaturated fatty acids leads to positive health benefits.

There were also other interesting results in relation to both micronutrients and macronutrients. However, since the results pointed in several directions, it was not possible to make convincing conclusions based on them.

Nutrition needs to be individualized

Moving away from generalised nutritional recommendations, it is important to remember that the mature adults are very heterogeneous. Therefore, the right diet and nutritional intake can be influenced by many factors such as activity level, seasonality requirements, geography, and ethnicity. Moreover, nutritional requirements are very different for people with long-term conditions, such as blood pressure, high cholesterol and type-2 diabetes, who have dietary requirements that are low in fat, salt, and refined sugar.

Overall, the conclusion is to consider generalised nutritional recommendations, while simultaneously getting better at integrating approaches to improve dietary intake of nutrients on an individualised level.

Find the European Personalised Nutrition Strategy report here.