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Nutrition in the Older Person Part 2

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Eamonn Brady is a pharmacist and the owner of Whelehans Pharmacy, Pearse St, Mullingar. If you have any health questions e-mail them to

Here are some more essential nutrients:

Vitamin D
Foods- Margarine, oily fish and sunlight.
Role- helps absorption of calcium hence strengthens bones. Vitamin D may help slow down the effect of ageing. Vitamin D may help protect the body from cancer and heart related diseases.

Foods- Bread, rice, pasta, cereals and sugar.

Role- important source of energy          

Folic Acid
Foods- Dark green vegetables, breakfast cereals, oranges, yeast extracts.
Role- important at all ages to properly form red blood cells and converting protein to energy. Folic acid and other B vitamins help fight heart disease and prevent Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, cancer and stabilise mental health.

Foods- Milk, eggs, lean meat, chicken and fish.
Roles- responsible for building and repair of the body’s tissues amongst other important functions.


Foods- Meat and dairy products. Always use low fat varieties. Grill food wherever possible.
Role- Another source of energy for the body. Provides insulation for the body and is needed to store fat soluble vitamins- A, D, E and K. After the age of 75, fat levels in the body decreases.

Dehydration in older people often occurs as a result of not drinking enough water. It is important to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day (approx 2 litres). Caffeine drinks like tea/ coffee have a diuretic effect (make us go to toilet) so can have a negative effect on hydration.


Causes of Malnutrition

There are many causes of malnutrition. These can include:

  • Reduced intake: Poor appetite due to illness, nausea or pain when eating, depression, anxiety, side effects of medication
  • Diminished sensory ability: Taste changes, less smell perception, hard of hearing, reduced appetite
  • Inability to eat: can be due to restrictions imposed by surgery or investigations, reduced levels of consciousness; confusion; difficulty in feeding oneself due to weakness, arthritis or other conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease, swallowing difficulty, vomiting, painful mouth conditions, poor oral hygiene or dentures;
  • Gut: Changes in the gut micro flora affect digestion and absorption of nutrients. With reduced immune system there may be bacterial overgrowth in the gut, or conversely, the use of antibiotics may reduce the beneficial gut flora, leading to diarrhoea or constipation.
  • Drug Use: Drugs can affect absorption and metabolism of some nutrients. Check with your pharmacist if your medication may be affecting your appetite or reduces vitamin levels.
  • Impaired absorption: Can be due to medical and surgical problems affecting digestion & stomach, intestine, pancreas and liver (e.g.) Crohn’s disease
  • Excess losses: Vomiting; diarrhoea;

Consequences of Malnutrition 

  • Increased risk to infections
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Impaired respiratory function
  • Muscle weakness and depression

HELP is at hand

Maurice Looby Fitness launch a new comprehensive weight loss programme in association with Whelehans Pharmacy/Nutrition Clinic called HELP – HEATHY EATING & LIFESTYLE PROGRAMME, it starts from 9th January 2017 (but if you missed the start you can still join anytime for a full six-week course) and is outstanding value at €210.


This excellent 6-week package offers a detailed one to one initial consultation with nutritionist including a body analysis and an achievable plan specific to you followed by weekly one to one meetings.   You get a training plan also specific to you and the level you are at and unlimited classes with Maurice Lobby fitness.  There are also additional benefits when you sign up i.e. fitness testing and food intolerance testing at reduced rates.


To sign up for HELP with Maurice Lobby Fitness in association with Whelehans Pharmacy call 087 2308001 or apply online at today

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