Did you know that your nutritional needs change as you get older? Here’s a brief guide to some of the nutritional requirements at different life stages.
At the beginning of their lives, babies get all the nutrients they need from breast milk or infant formula. Around six months of age, solid foods should be introduced, prepared so they’re safe for infants to consume. These solid foods should be rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals and in particular, iron. Infant cereals, puréed beans and finely minced fish and meat are all good sources of iron for babies.
To grow and develop, kids require a wide variety of nutritious foods including fruits, vegetables, legumes and lean meats. The more they’re encouraged to try new foods, the more likely they’ll be to maintain a balanced diet later in life.
Around puberty, children start to require more energy, which should come from nutrient-dense foods like wholegrain breads, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, fish and lean meats. Teens, especially girls, should also make sure to get enough calcium through dairy products like low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese.
As people begin their adult lives, it’s important that they develop good eating habits by consuming a variety of nutritious foods. They should limit their intake of fat, sugar and salt and make sure to eat plenty of foods that are rich in iron and calcium.
Pregnant and nursing women
Pregnant women require increased amounts of folate, iron, vitamin B12 and iodine. They also need to make sure to get enough calcium and vitamin C. When breast-feeding, women should make sure to eat a highly nutritious diet, especially foods rich in folate, iodine, zinc and calcium.
As people age, they need fewer calories but just as many nutrients to stay healthy. Seniors should eat a wide range of foods that are nutrient dense rather than high in calories. They should also make sure to consume plenty of fiber, limit their salt intake and get lots of vitamin D.
Talk to a nutritionist about the recommended diet for someone at your stage of life.