Liquid Food Supplements for an Elderly Person

Senior woman drinking milk
Liquid supplements can provide good nutrition for older adults. (Image: Rudyanto Wijaya/iStock/Getty Images)

Older adults need higher amounts of certain nutrients than their younger counterparts. Changes in metabolism, chewing or swallowing difficulties and taste changes can all affect the ability of older folks to meet their nutrient needs. Liquid nutrition supplements are one of the easiest ways for older adults to meet their daily requirements.

Key Nutrients

Calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, fiber, and potassium are the key nutrients older adults need. These nutrients play important roles in preventing osteoporosis, improving energy, maintaining nerve function, promoting healthy digestion and managing blood pressure. Many popular liquid supplement brands tailor their supplements to the needs of older populations, increasing the amount of calcium, fiber, potassium and other nutrients they contain.

Changes in metabolism and gastrointestinal issues can decrease the amount of nutrients older adults are able to absorb from food. Also, because chewing whole foods like fresh vegetables or raw nuts can sometimes be difficult for older adults with dentures or poor dentition, liquid nutrition supplements provide an easy, effective way to meet these daily nutrient requirements.

Types of Liquid Supplements

Liquid nutrition supplements come in a variety of brands and flavors. A convenient source of balanced nutrition, these supplements can easily be added to any eating plan. Many require little to no preparation and are easy to store and drink. Supplements can be drunk as is -- best when chilled -- or blended with milk, ice cream and fruits or vegetables.

Other Forms of Supplements

Some companies make a powder form of nutrition supplements. This form is convenient for people who like to create shakes using a variety of liquids and other foods. Powdered forms may also be a slightly less expensive option for people who are using these supplements often.

Preparation and Mixing

To increase the amount of calcium and vitamin D per serving, you can mix the supplement with milk or a milk substitute, such as soy milk. For people with lactose intolerance, many supplements are already suitable for lactose-free diets and can be mixed with lactose-free milk, if desired. Whole milk, evaporated milk, powdered milk and ice cream are good mixing options for those looking to increase calorie and fat intake.

Although many liquid nutrition supplements already contain significant amounts of fiber, adding a fiber supplement can help in meeting daily fiber goals. Supplements can also be blended with fruits or vegetables, such as strawberries or spinach, to make a fiber-rich, vitamin-packed shake.

Choosing a Supplement

Many brands offer lower-carb or low-sugar supplements. These types are good for people who have diabetes or are looking to decrease caloric intake while meeting protein needs. Other supplements are tailored to the needs of certain medical and health conditions, such as people with kidney disease or significant wounds. A doctor or registered dietitian can provide recommendations on which liquid nutrition supplement would best meet your nutritional needs.

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