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  Fitness > Nutrition >  << Previous|Next >>
 

Eat for Your Age (continued from part 1)

Adolescents
Adolescent children undergo a growth spurt and their appetites keep pace. Teen-age boys and girls need more calories and nutrients than at any other time in their lives. Puberty about age 10 to 12 for girls and 12 to 14 for boys is an intense growth period that brings dramatic changes in height and weight. Because body mass almost doubles, adolescents are particularly vulnerable to even modest levels of energy restriction. Despite the availability of recommended, age-specific dietary guidelines for adolescents, it can be difficult to estimate energy and nutrient needs, since both are closely related to a youngster's growth rate or biologic age, rather than his or her chronologic age.

Snacks become a major source of energy for teens. Try to teach preteens and teen-agers how to choose better snack foods, so they will get a good supply of nutrients along with the calories. Teens are generally concerned with the here and now and don't care much about eating well for their future health. Try to fit lessons about good nutrition into a context your teen can relate to, such as physical appearance, mental alertness for studying or endurance for sports.

Gender-specific energy requirements often are given for adolescents, since males consume more calories per day than do females. An increasing difference is seen through adolescence. The typical 10-year-old male consumes 200 calories more than a female of similar age. At ages 12, 14, 16 and 18 years, energy intake for males continues to exceed that for females by 300, 400, 630 and 930 calories, respectively. Protein requirements in adolescence parallel the individual's caloric needs. Muscle mass, blood volume and blood constituents all increase throughout adolescence and are sensitive to adequate protein intake.

During adolescence, bone development and calcium requirements are at a peak. At puberty, the skeleton is only one-half its final adult mass. Despite the seeming permanence of bone, it is constantly being formed and resorbed. This process occurs most frequently during childhood and adolescence and at a declining rate thereafter. Calcium intake during adolescence and the early adult years will establish the life-long pattern for bone integrity. As young people begin to make more of their own food choices, many adolescents stop drinking milk and switch to soft drinks, which further depletes calcium. If they spurn milk, encourage them to eat at least three daily servings of calcium-rich foods; for example, low-fat yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese and ice cream, and canned sardines or salmon with bones. Such calcium intake is especially important for females. Adolescent boys often need a lot of food and can eat the higher number of servings from each group in the food pyramid.

The Aging Adult
As you age, your body becomes less forgiving, and you'll have to make more of an effort to eat well and stay fit. Ideally, you've been practicing healthy eating habits throughout your life. But most of us don't live in an ideal world, and often we don't pay attention to our health until we reach middle age and beyond. But middle age is still a good time to start thinking about how to stay healthy in your later years. Your nutritional needs are pretty much the same at 40, 50, 60 and beyond as they were when you were younger--with some minor variations.

As you age you need fewer calories, but exactly how much you should eat still depends on how active you are. Since you're eating less food to maintain a healthy weight, you have to be more careful about choosing low-fat and nutrient-rich foods. As the years pass and you lose lean body mass (muscle), your metabolic rate slows down and you burn calories more slowly. Exercise is the best way to maintain lean body mass and speed up your metabolic rate.

Even presumably healthy elderly people may exhibit deficiencies for vitamin B6--resulting from low intake and higher requirements; vitamin B 12 and folate--due to low intakes and malabsorption; vitamin D--as a result of lack of exposure to sunlight, low intakes, age related decreased synthesis; and zinc--resulting from low intake associated with low energy intakes.

Fiber is more important than ever to prevent constipation and gastrointestinal diseases such as diverticulosis (formation of pouches in the lining of the large intestine that can cause spasm or cramping). At around age 40, calcium and other minerals start to move out of bones faster than they can be replaced. In women at menopause, the drop in estrogen (which helps bones hold on to calcium) causes greater bone loss than in men. The National Institute of Health's recommendation for daily calcium intake for post-menopausal women is 1500 mg, higher than the 1200 mg recommended dietary allowance. To help counter the loss, women-and men, too--should make sure to get plenty of calcium in their diet every day. Calcium may also help to keep blood pressure low and play a role in preventing colon cancer. Calcium supplements up to 1,000 milligrams a day are recommended for people who can't get enough of the mineral from their diet. If you take supplements, calcium carbonate and calcium citrate are the ones experts frequently recommend. Supplements derived from bone meal oyster shells, dolomite or other natural sources may contain large quantities of lead and may be poorly absorbed.

One way for seniors to pack a lot of good nutrition into a little meal is to drink it in the form of a shake. Start with a cup of low-fat or skim milk (or an alternative such as soy milk or almond milk, which can be found in health food stores) and a small banana in a blender. Depending on individual taste, add a couple of spoonfuls of creamy peanut butter, a little honey, a spoonful of wheat germ or bran and/or another fruit such as strawberries, peaches, pineapple, mango or kiwi. A heaping spoonful of powdered nonfat dry milk will add extra calcium.

There are many public and private programs which offer meals for people 60 years of age and older at senior centers throughout the country. These programs provide social interactions that may be just as beneficial to an elderly person as the meals.

Reference Source 22,24,25,26,60

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