Although the nutritional needs of growth disappear with age, the normal nutritional needs for maintaining a constant state of good health remain throughout life. Good nutrition can speed recovery from illness, surgery, or broken bones and generally can improve the spirits and the quality, and even the length, of life.
Despite the physical changes the body undergoes after the age of 51 or so, only a few of the DRIs, and AIs for people in that age category, are less than those for younger people.
The protein requirement remains at the average 50 grams per day for women and 63 grams for men. This is based on the estimated need of 0.8 gram per kilogram of body weight. After age 65, it may be advisable to increase one’s daily protein intake to 1.0 gram per kilogram of body weight. In general, vitamin requirements do not change after the age of 51, except for a slight decrease in the DRIs for thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. The need for these three vitamins depends largely on the calorie intake, and calorie requirement is reduced after the age of 51. The need for iron is decreased after age 51 in women because of menopause.
The calorie requirement decreases approximately 1% to 2% a decade because metabolism slows and activity is reduced. If the calorie intake is not reduced, weight will increase. This additional weight would increase the work of the heart and put increased stress on the skeletal system. It is important that the calorie requirement not be exceeded and just as important that the nutrient requirements be fulfilled to maintain good nutritional status. An exercise plan appropriate for one’s age and health can be helpful in burning excess calories and toning and strengthening the muscles.