July 05, 2017 · Written by Foodtolive Team

Understanding Vegetarian Dietary Needs Changes for Seniors

Vegetarian dietary needs change with age because of the many processes happening inside your body. Aging affects your ability to process or produce certain elements, so you must revise your nutritional plan to fit. The ‘golden rule’ of a healthy diet for seniors is to fill your meals with nutrient-dense foods.

Understanding Vegetarian Dietary Needs Changes for Seniors

Vegetarian Dietary Needs: Calories for Seniors

One of the most important factors responsible for the changes in your ability to get nutrition is reduced metabolic rate. It goes down naturally when your body ages and it’s impossible to completely stop or prevent this process. The only thing you can do to account for this quirk of mother nature is to eat more nutritious foods.

Vegetarian Dietary Needs That Grow with Age

You have to be a very health-conscious vegetarian when you grow older, because your needs for calcium and vitamin B12 increase. These are elements that are difficult to get on a meat-free meal plan by default. Therefore, you should determine what your current nutritional levels before researching how much more nutrients you need to consume.

Of all essential vitamins and minerals vegetarian seniors need more:

Understanding Vegetarian Dietary Needs Changes for Seniors

1. Vitamin D
Aged skin doesn’t produce vitamin D in large enough quantities, so even sunbathing doesn’t provide you with a healthy dose. Don’t forget that using sunscreen also reduces your body’s ability to create this element.
Vitamin D deficiency prevents you from absorbing calcium, which weakens your bones. Therefore, it’s essential to consume fortified foods (cereals and juices) as well as take specialized supplements.

Understanding Vegetarian Dietary Needs Changes for Seniors

2. Calcium
Calcium is one of the hardest vegetarian dietary needs to meet. In most cases, taking vegan calcium supplements would be best, but test your blood before using them. As bode requires vitamin D to absorb and process calcium, be sure to address both nutritious deficiencies at the same time.

Understanding Vegetarian Dietary Needs Changes for Seniors

3. Vitamin B12

As you age, your body’s nutrient absorption rate goes down in general. The situation with vitamin B12 is particularly bad because you simply cannot soak it up from food properly. This is caused reduced stomach acid production. Vitamin B12 in vegetarian diet is very rare as you can only get it from eggs and dairy. Even at the peak of one’s youth, vegetarians would struggle to get this nutrient from food alone. As age makes this task harder, supplementation is the only option.

Understanding Vegetarian Dietary Needs Changes for Seniors

Vegetarian Dietary Changes: What to Avoid

A healthy diet for seniors is not only about the foods you ‘should’ eat but also those to avoid. Salt (sodium) is a major contributing factor to high blood pressure. Sugar is even more dangerous, so you should avoid it no matter how old you are.

As your need in calories goes down while you still require as much protein, carbs, and fiber, you should also avoid ‘fat-inducing’ products. These are processed foods rich in fats and carbs. Note that junk food definitely falls into this category.

If you want to enjoy a light snack, eat a handful of nuts, dried fruits, or edible seeds. Stick to these simple guidelines and you’ll be able to meet all your vegetarian dietary needs.