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If you are catering to our aging population in a hospital or long-term care setting, it’s important to be aware of their specific nutritional needs. Offering age-appropriate portion sizes and nutrient-rich options can help older adults make better food choices and stay healthy for longer. Here are some things to consider when planning meals for older adults:

Serve smaller portions

As people age, calorie intake and appetites begin to decline, so smaller portions are preferred. Follow Canada’s Food Guide for suggested daily servings (amount and size) based on age.

Offer more “superfoods”

Since every bite counts when you have a smaller appetite, offer foods that are richest in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Nutrient-dense choices include turkey, lean beef, berries, leafy greens, whole grains (oats, whole wheat, brown rice), yogurt and fatty fish.

Watch for B6

Requirements of vitamin B6 increase after age 50, and getting enough is vital for a healthy immune system. To ensure sufficient vitamin B6 intake, offer menu choices including beef, chicken, fish, potatoes and legumes.

Deliver on D

Vitamin D is not found in many foods, but is essential for maintaining strong bones. Health Canada recommends that all people over age 50 take a daily supplement with 400 IU vitamin D. In addition to supplements, vitamin D is found in milk and soft margarine, so include these options on daily menus.

Serve calcium-rich options

Daily calcium requirements increase to 1200 mg after age 50. The best sources include milk, cheese, yogurt and fortified soy beverages. Unique offerings include milk-based soups and puddings, fancy coffee drinks (like lattes and cappuccinos) and smoothies.