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7 Anzeichen einer unzureichenden Ernährung

von NFI Redaktion

Ensuring adequate nutrition is not always easy, especially for older adults. You may not be as active as you were in your younger years, and therefore may need fewer calories. However, research shows that older individuals may require more specific essential nutrients such as B-vitamins and calcium.

Unfortunately, nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition can persist long before they present physical signs or symptoms. Nevertheless, there are some indicators to watch for, both for yourself and with the guidance of your doctor.

Fatigue is a common side effect of iron deficiency, which can lead to anemia characterized by a lack of red blood cells. Anemia may also manifest as abnormal paleness. However, keep in mind that other conditions such as heart disease, depression, or thyroid disorders can also contribute to excessive fatigue.

If you feel unusually weak or tired, it is advisable to inform your doctor. They may prescribe supplements if you are suffering from anemia.

Hair, primarily made of protein, serves as a useful diagnostic marker for nutrient deficiencies.

„If an older person’s hair looks brittle, dry, and sparse, it’s often a sign that their diet is inadequate,“ says Kathleen Niedert, RD, Director of Clinical Nutrition and Dining Services at Western Home Communities in Iowa.

Brittle hair can indicate a deficiency in essential fatty acids, proteins, iron, and other nutrients. While some hair loss is normal with age, unusually rapid hair loss may be a sign of nutrient deficiency. Once deficiencies are identified by your doctor, they can be treated with nutrient-rich foods and supplements.

Nails, like hair, serve as early warning signs of inadequate nutrition. Spoon-shaped nails, where the nail curves upward from the nail bed (a condition known as koilonychia), may indicate iron deficiency anemia.

If you are suffering from iron deficiency anemia, your doctor may recommend iron tablets and iron-rich foods such as liver and shellfish like mussels, oysters, and clams.

Cheilitis angularis, which presents as cracks or inflammation in the corners of the mouth, can be a warning sign of riboflavin (B2) deficiency or iron deficiency. An unusually pale or swollen tongue is a warning sign of iron or B-vitamin deficiency. When iron, zinc, or B-vitamin levels drop below the required values, a condition called Burning Mouth Syndrome may occur, baffling researchers.

Again, once your specific nutritional deficits are confirmed, they can be treated with nutrient-rich foods and supplements.

Chronic diarrhea can indicate malabsorption, meaning nutrients are not fully absorbed by the body. Malabsorption can be triggered by infections, surgeries, certain medications, excessive alcohol consumption, and digestive disorders such as celiac disease and Crohn’s disease.

If persistent diarrhea occurs, it is important to consult your doctor.

Unexplained mood swings, especially apathy or irritability, may be symptoms of a serious condition like depression. However, they can also be symptoms of not receiving the energy your body needs.

If you experience prolonged feelings of sadness or forgetfulness, it is important to undergo a medical examination.

Appetite often diminishes with age. Taste buds lose sensitivity. If you become less active, you may also require fewer calories. Additionally, some medications can suppress appetite.

„Chronic appetite loss is a serious warning sign that you may be at risk of nutrient deficiency,“ says Nancy Wellman, RD, former President of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. There are many causes of appetite loss in older age, including severe illnesses, depression, certain medications, and dementia. If you find yourself skipping meals due to lack of hunger, talk to your doctor.

Blood tests can reveal if you are missing essential nutrients. By evaluating your dietary intake, a registered dietitian can also identify nutrient deficiencies.

„It’s important to quickly inform your doctor if your appetite changes or if you start skipping meals,“ says Wellman. This way, you can prevent nutritional problems before they escalate into serious issues.

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