Micronutrient requirements in older women.Am J Clin Nutr 2005; 81(5):1240S-1245SAJ
The nutritional requirements of older women is an area of great interest because the extended life expectancy leads to an increase in women living into their 80s, 90s, and longer. The recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) and dietary reference intakes (DRIs) are not specific for women living to advanced ages, and little research has been conducted specifically on the micronutrient needs of elderly women. Older adults are at greater risk for nutritional deficiencies than are younger adults due to physiologic changes associated with aging, acute and chronic illnesses, prescription and over-the-counter medications, financial and social status, and functional decline. Among the significant age-associated changes in nutrient requirements, the need for energy decreases and the requirements for protein increase with age. Among the micronutrients, the significant ones that may be associated with deficiencies in elderly women include vitamin B-12, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, iron, zinc, and other trace minerals. In old and very old women, these are micronutrients of interest but there is a great need for research to determine appropriate recommendations. The importance of these selected nutrients and the reasons for the likelihood of deficiency are discussed briefly. However, there is little specific information regarding micronutrient requirements for elderly women. One reason for this is the difficulty in conducting reliable and valid studies due to the heterogeneity of older adults and their unique rate of aging associated with their health status, limited income, disability, and living situation.