The elderly population in the United States is on the rise. According to a January 2016 report released by the Population Reference Bureau, the number of Americans who are 65 or older will rise from about 46 million in 2016 to over 98 million in 2060—more than doubling in less than 50 years.1 Getting the right nutrition is a major concern as today’s seniors continue to age while pursuing a positive quality of life.
However, it can be a challenge for older adults to get all of the vitamins and minerals they need in their diet. This opens up an opportunity for food and beverage developers who are looking to appeal to this rapidly growing consumer base. Using formulations software, food and beverage companies can fortify products with the nutrients that older people need the most. This strategy can make it possible to win over one of the most important consumer bases in the market today.
Essential Nutrients for Older Adults
As people age, their nutritional needs change. In order for older adults to maintain health and wellness, they need to take in larger amounts of certain vitamins and minerals than they did when they were younger. Here are a few of the most important to include in fortified foods and beverages for the elderly:
- Calcium. Bone loss is an unavoidable part of aging, but seniors can maintain bone strength by ensuring that they get an adequate amount of calcium. According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, women over 50 and men over 70 should increase their intake of calcium from 1,000mg per day (the recommended daily amount for most adults) to 1,200 mg per day.2
- Vitamin B12. This nutrient plays an essential role in a wide range of body processes, supporting healthy energy levels and nervous system functioning. However, between 10% and 30% of older adults suffer from atrophic gastritis, a condition which significantly reduces the absorption of vitamin B12 from regular food sources. Therefore the Institute of Medicine (IOM) at the National Academy of Sciences recommends that adults over 50 get most of their vitamin B12 from fortified foods or supplements.3
- Vitamin D. Seniors need to get enough vitamin D to ensure proper absorption of calcium. The Food and Nutrition Board at the IOM recommends 800 IU per day for adults over 70, as compared to 600 IU per day for younger adults.4 Because older adults may spend less time outside than they did when they were younger, it can be harder to get enough of the vitamin from sun exposure. Fortified foods and beverages can provide the necessary dietary boost to avoid deficiency.
Boosting Nutrition in Convenient Food and Beverage Products
Not only do seniors need to increase their intake of certain nutrients, such as those mentioned above, but they may also be in danger of falling short on nutrients that they used to be able to consume through foods that they no longer eat regularly. For example, many seniors reduce their intake of meat as they get older, since certain cuts of meat can raise the risk of heart disease and other conditions that disproportionately affect older adults. While eliminating meat from the diet can reduce fat intake, it also cuts out a key source of protein, and lifelong meat eaters may have trouble finding ways to replace this essential nutrient. By fortifying common, ready-to-eat foods with protein—like granola bars, cereal, and instant soup mix—food and beverage developers can ensure that seniors avoid the muscle weakness that could arise from a protein-poor diet.
Some seniors also experience difficulty chewing and swallowing as they get older, which can turn eating into a chore and ultimately lead to deficiencies in total calorie intake, as well as essential nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin E, magnesium and manganese.5 To meet the needs of these seniors, food and beverage formulators can design functional beverages and powdered meal replacements designed specifically for seniors who rely solely on these products for their daily nutrition. Formulators can win customer loyalty by improving the texture and consistency of liquid meals, as well as offering a wider range of flavor options.
Formulations software is an essential tool for food and beverage developers who are looking to create products that appeal to America’s growing population of seniors. With this technology, scientists can analyze different combinations of ingredients and evaluate how they affect texture, consistency, and other important qualities of new food and beverage products, all before bringing the recipe to the bench for testing.
The software can also streamline ingredient sources, making it easier for developers to identify the ingredients that can boost a product’s nutritional content without compromising quality or rendering the product too expensive for the average consumer. As a result, the research and development process will be much more efficient, and new products can hit market shelves as quickly as possible.
BIOVIA Formulations is an innovative software solution that supports the development of highly innovative food and beverage products, including products aimed specifically at America’s aging seniors. Contact us today for more information.
- “Fact sheet: aging in the United States,” January 2016, http://www.prb.org/Publications/Media-Guides/2016/aging-unitedstates-fact-sheet.aspx ↩
- “Calcium,” August 4, 2015, http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/calcium ↩
- “Vitamin B12, February 11, 2016, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/ ↩
- “Vitamin D,” February 11, 2016, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/ ↩
- “The association between chewing and swallowing difficulties and nutritional status in adults,” 2013, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/adj.12064/pdf ↩