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Nutritional Needs of Age Groups Nutrition refers to the science which studies, analyzes, and interprets the relation of nutrients and other food substances to the growth, life maintenance, life reproduction, health and diseases of people and that of living organisms. This includes the food intake, absorption and assimilation, biosynthesis, catabolism and excretion. The food intake or diet of a person represents the kinds of food he/she eats, and which is determined by the availability of the food, how the food was processed or prepared, and how good the food was. A healthy diet involves the food preparation and methods of storage, which both are instrumental processes in preserving the food nutrients from oxidation, heat or leaching, as well as from the risk of food poisoning. Nutrients are composed of carbohydrates, fats, proteins and amino acids, and vitamins, as well as water, oxygen, and minerals. When we age, our dietary needs will change and this kind of process will continue all through life, and with that, the food nutrients that we take will also undergo adjustments as we grow older. It is not just the stages of age where the diet of people changes, but there are also factors that contribute in the dietary change, such as economic, psychological, and social aspects.
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For the first six months of a baby’s life, nutritionists strongly recommend that mothers must breastfeed their babies since breast milk is complete and full of nutrients and has antibodies which the infants need. After six months, solid food can already be given to the baby together with the mother’s breast milk.
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The early years of the pre-school age group should start with these nutritional requirements: carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables, milk and dairy foods, protein and good quality fats, as well as vitamins A, C, calcium, iron and zinc. When the child reaches school age, which stretches to puberty, proportions of the nutritional requirements according to their age and physical, mental and social activities will now vary, such that it is imperative that a healthy balance of food nutrients be afforded to ensure a healthy lifestyle. What is recommended for this age group is a proportional balanced diet of complete nutrients, including calcium, iron and protein with vitamin supplements, and must be found in any of the three meals each day – breakfast, lunch, dinner. Growth and development will be almost over when we reach adulthood, such that this signals on the direction for the body to shift to adult form of nutrition to continue in maintaining a physically active life. At this age level, we should still strive to have three full meals but the proportions of food will have to be reduced in portions and snack foods must be on whole grain toast and fruit diet. Since the portions are small and preparations to it can be taxing, it is best to cook large meals then freeze the rest so that the nutrients are still preserved until the next meal. It is indeed constraining when we reach the elderly stage as continued changes in our bodies are happening, slowing down are appetite for food and limiting our mobility, and, with that, the buying and preparing of good food is also restricted. It is, therefore, recommended to buy food, that are already pre-cooked and are equally nutritious, and can be frozen at a long period of time, so that small portions of it can be taken as the need arises.