Nutritional requirements for Adults & Children
Does a person’s age determine what he should eat to stay healthy?
Healthy living leads to a happy living. There have been changes in various dimensions over
the past couple of years, be it our lifestyles, work life, technologies and many more. People
have succeeded in coping with these changes to a certain extent, but there are certain areas
which have got neglected, the topmost being our eating habits. The concept of a balanced
diet has remained just in words and is barely followed these days. The food we eat is one of
the major reasons of stress in work life and personal life. While juggling between office,
meetings and projects, we forget to take proper diet. The little breaks are filled up with
burgers, fries and pizzas. This junk food satiates our hunger pangs but what we don’t realise
is that such food has high fat content and is devoid of any important nutrients. A poor diet-
plan can lead to weaker functioning of the body thereby leading to unproductivity. It weakens our immune system and reduces the immunity to fight against the viruses that attack our body. On the other hand, people with adequate nutrition are seen to be more productive.Proper intake of nutrient dense food such as fruits and vegetables help in physical as well as mental growth. Also, these healthy staples can help you fight nutrient deficiencies, without expanding your waistline.
As we advance in age, our body demands intake of certain nutrients compulsorily. We need to reduce the calories but increase the other nutrients. Nutrient requirements for different age groups of both male and female have been listed by WHO. There are different level of nutrients required in an infant body, a teenager and an adult. Similarly, it is different for a gym-goer and for a pregnant woman and so on so as to maintain the effective working of the body.
Infants needs a lot of nutrients in the early days of their life as compared to any other time in
their life. Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for them. Plain yogurt, oats can also be
added to their meals. They also need vitamins such as vitamin A which helps build the
immune system, vitamin B12 which keeps the nerves and blood cells healthy, vitamin C
which protects against infections, builds bones and muscles and vitamin D that helps the
body absorb calcium and keeps bones and teeth heathy.
kilocalories per day :900 kcal/d -1000 kcal/d
Protein :56-112 gm
Fruits :1-1.5 cups
Vegetables :1-1.5 cups
Grains :84-140 gm
Dairy :2 cups
Nutrients are broadly divided into macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients. Macro-nutrients includecarbohydrates, proteins and fats and are required in larger quantities. Cereals, millets and sprouts(pulses) are good sources of protein, calcium, iron, and B-complex vitamins and are rich in macro-nutrients. Micro-nutrients include vitamins and minerals which are required in smaller quantities. Milk, fruits, green leafy vegetables, dry fruits, non-vegetarian foods, etc.
are good sources of micro-nutrients that are needed for a child’s healthy bones, skin, eyes,
and brain development. Intake of food items such as fries, burger, pizza, fruit-flavoured
drinks, chips must be limited or avoided. Pre-school children grow rapidly and have higher
activity levels and nutrient requirements. However, due to their small stomach capacity, they
cannot eat enough to obtain all the necessary nutrients from their regular meals. That’s why
eating nutrient-rich food becomes extremely important at this age to bridge the nutrient-gap.
Total fat: less than 70g.
Saturates: less than 20g.
Carbohydrate: at least 260g.
Total sugars: 90g.
Salt: less than 6g.
Adults need more calcium and vitamin D to help maintain bone health because of lack of
sunlight. This includes fruit juices, dark green leafy vegetables, fish, milk etc. Eating more
fiber-rich food such as whole-grain bread, beans and peas can help lower the risk of heart
disease and prevent Type 2 diabetes which is becoming a growing problem in today’s era.
Increasing potassium along with reducing sodium (salt) may lower the risk of high blood
pressure which can be done by preparing food with little or no salt in it. Intake of fats must be polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, which are primary found in nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil and fish.
Thus, at different ages and in different phases of one’s life, a balance needs to be
maintained- This would help you stay healthy and fit and away from all diseases.
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