The 2005 Dietary Guidelines Give Food for Thought
Those of us who are fascinated enough with the latest Dietary Guidelines to actually read the document see more specifics in key recommendations than in earlier versions — and more emphasis on calorie and weight control.
The guidelines have been issued every five years since 1980 and have undergone at least some revision every time. In the 2005 version, one of the key recommendations is to make sure you get adequate nutrients within your calorie needs. It has never been spelled out quite that way before.
What does that recommendation mean? First, it means individuals should concentrate on consuming nutrient-dense foods and beverages. That means foods with “empty calories” — for example, snack foods or soft drinks high in calories but with few vitamins and minerals — should be limited on a day-to-day basis. The idea is to eat foods with enough nutrients — such as calcium, vitamin E, potassium, iron — without overdoing it on calories.
This also means you need to know about how many calories you need each day and how many calories you consume on average. The Dietary Guidelines includes a chart that estimates calorie needs for sedentary, moderately active, and active people. For adults, calorie requirements range from 1,600 a day for a sedentary woman over age 50 to up to 3,000 a day for an active man age 50 or under. “Sedentary” means your lifestyle includes only light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day living. Active means you walk more than 1.5 to 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour. Generally, children and adolescents need more calories as they age, while adults need fewer calories at older ages.
The guidelines recommend (as they have in the past) that people over age 50 consume vitamin B12 in its crystalline form, found in vitamin supplements and fortified foods. That is because a substantial number of older people have a reduced ability to absorb naturally occurring B12. Among other things, vitamin B12 is important in helping the body metabolize folate and aids in insulating nerve fibers, especially around the spinal cord.
This article originally appeared in Chow Line (1/21/05), a service of Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission, 2009.
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