Risk of Malnutrition Due to Lack of Essential Nutrients

By | November 21, 2015

Many assume that malnutrition is a problem which only concerns the under developed countries of the world and that malnutrition is a thing of the past in today’s in developed countries of today’s modern societies. Unfortunately, this is clearly not the case. The fact is that because of behavioral, physiologic, and socio-economic issues the problem of malnutrition is a very serious concern even in the wealthiest of countries such as the United States and people are not getting the 43 essential nutrients they need to be healthy, the lack of which is resulting in certifiable cases of malnutrition.

One of the groups as serious risk is elderly people. In fact recent studies are indicating that the rate of malnutrition ranges between 10% to 85% with the highest rates including the elderly from nursing home facilities. The cause of this includes the issues listed above and other unique issues including common loss of appetite, absorption complications, increased complications due to coexisting disease, acute depression exacerbated by the physical inability to obtain and prepare their own food. Include these factors and its easy to see why the elderly are at high risk of being deficient in essential nutrients including protein, and key vitamins & minerals.

While it is obvious that the U.S. population is currently suffering from a true epidemic of obesity, this also occurs frequently amongst the elderly. Understanding this is typically a situation of too much food consumption, its easy to think that obese individuals could not possibly be suffering from malnutrition when in fact, over nutrition can result in malnutrition in a very similar manner as under nutrition. Moreover, such people frequently have a diet that provides insufficient essential nutrients which exclude protein, vitamins and minerals while at the same time consist of an excess amount of calories. The result of feeding on “empty calories” which are typically very high in sugar, starch and fat while at the same time having a lower need for calories due to inactivity can have catastrophic effects.

One of the worst deficits of the elderly diet is a lack of healthy protein. One problem is that meat, eggs and milk products which are rich in protein are typically among the most expensive, are difficult to prepare and can be difficult to digest. To get around this the quick fix is to open up a box of chips or crackers to eat rather preparing meat or fish, which is often not at the choice for many of the elderly who need the required essential nutrients but not getting them. Current liquid protein supplements are often presented as a healthy alternative but are commonly very sweet, too high in calories and monotonous to the patients and people consuming. Obtaining simple to prepare high protein food that’s easy and digest and also satisfies the senior citizen’s palate is often challenging turns out to be a not an easy task…

Vitamin deficiency is also a very real problem for the elderly as well. Among these deficiencies, Vitamin D and B12 are among those which are most common. Vitamin D deficiency is typically a problem that involves both consumption and production since it can be produced by the skin with sun exposure when there are a sufficient amount of building materials in one’s system. B12 deficiencies are typically caused from the lack of intake of protein and lack of absorption caused by changes in the bowel. Oddly enough, even vitamin C deficiency can be found despite the easy availability of citrus fruit.

Additionally, we have found that mineral deficiencies are also quite common amongst the elderly. Calcium, Zinc and iron are included amongst the most common deficiencies. This is also related to decrease intake of protein as well as physiologic issues involving the absorption of these essential nutrients. In some instances, particularly with iron, it is also a problem due to the loss of iron that can be caused by states of illness and disease such as open wounds and/or bowel disorders.

In conclusion, our elderly population is at an extremely high level of risk of being deficient of virtually most essential nutrients. Deficiencies in protein, and vitamins and minerals are much more commonplace than merely calorie deficiency alone. In order to avoid obesity in these patients, superfood products are needed which are nutrient dense and loaded with essential nutrients while low in calories and interesting in taste and texture to avoid monotony.

The population is getting older! Do you want to be one of those living longer and in comfort? Take good care of yourself!

Leave Your Comment

Your email will not be published or shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>