FIGURE 6 -
OUR NUTRIENT NEEDS CHANGE WITH AGE
- With weaning or with a change from
infant formulas to cow's milk at around 6 months of age, there is
a reduced intake of vitamins C and D and iron.
- Adequate exposure to sunlight usually
prevents vitamin D deficiency or rickets.
- Additional sources of vitamin C and
iron-containing foods are recommended at this time.
- Fluoride may be needed where water
is not fluoridated.
- Nutrient needs during childhood are
determined both by growth and physical activity.
- A developing knowledge of and interest
in food and its preparation will help children choose from a wide
variety of foods.
- The principle nutritional problems
of childhood in developed countries are obesity on the one hand and
underweight on the other, dental caries (tooth decay) and, for a few
children, food sensitivity. Food sensitivity can show up as eczema,
asthma, bowel disturbances, and, possibly, behavioural problems. A
lack of foods containing dietary fibre can also lead to constipation.
- In early adolescence or puberty there
is a marked increase in rate of growth, and therefore in energy and
nutrient needs. Thus foods that are energy dense (see
Energy Balance/Energy Density) can be tolerated at this
time and nutrient-dense foods (see
Energy Balance/Nutrient Density)
should be encouraged. Some foods such as nuts and meat are both energy
and nutrient dense.
- The adult is at nutritional risk because
of changing food patterns moving from the parental home, getting a
job (or not having a job), and changing patterns of physical activity.
There are problems of obesity, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis),
high blood pressure and proneness to certain cancers. To minimize
these health risks the adult should maintain physical activity and
control intake of energy-dense foods (especially fats) and salt.
- Energy and nutrient needs increase
during pregnancy to meet the needs of the developing foetus - by about
an additional 10 per cent. · It is especially important in pregnancy
to be neither overweight nor underweight. Nevertheless, pregnancy
itself is not the time to be making efforts to reduce weight, because
of risks to the foetus. After pregnancy, there is a greater risk of
putting on excess weight and this should be guarded against.
- During pregnancy, cravings for particular
foods can occur. The pregnant woman should not let these displace
more important food items from her diet.
- The pregnant teenager is at extra risk
because she has to meet the nutritional needs of her own growth as
well as those of the foetus.
- Essential nutrients that tend to be
depleted during pregnancy include protein, calcium, iron and folacin.
- Alcohol intake should be kept to a
minimum because of possible harmful effects on the unborn child.
- Breast-feeding increases the mother's
nutrient and energy needs by about 20 per cent. The more milk produced,
the greater the energy and nutrient requirements.
- When a mother is breast-feeding, calcium
and vitamin C are especially important, as these are present in greater
concentrations in breast milk than are generally found in the diet.
- When you are elderly, nutrition is
an especially important factor in your diet.
- In approaching retirement, it is important
to be as physically active as possible. Then you will have an appetite
to eat the food you need to provide you with all the essential nutrients.
Once energy intake falls below about 1200 kilocalories (5000 kilojoules),
it is difficult to get all your essential nutrient needs from food.
- If you are obese, you will be less
healthy and your extra weight will contribute to problems of arthritis,
especially in joints such as hips and knees, which bear the weight.
- If you are well and active, your opportunities
for independent shopping and food preparation are greater, and these
contribute to your nutritional well-being.