Nutrition Over 70: A Guide To Senior Dietary Needs

Amy Long Carrera, MS, RD, CNSC, CWCMS
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist | Shield HealthCare
07/10/12  9:50 PM PST
Senior Dietary Needs

If you are over 70 years old, your dietary needs differ from other populations. Your calorie needs decrease as you get older, yet you may need more of some key nutrients.


The amount of calories you need depends on how physically active you are. The USDA defines a sedentary lifestyle as one in which you are limited to the activities of daily living. If you walk briskly for more than 3 miles a day you are considered active. You may need more or fewer calories than what’s recommended if you are unable to maintain a healthy weight.

  • Men: A sedentary male over the age of 70 requires around 2,000 calories. Consume about 2,400 calories a day if you are active.
  • Women: Eat between 1,600 to 2,000 calories daily if you are a sedentary to active female older than 70 years.


Healthy men over 70 should aim for 56 grams of protein a day from meat, chicken, fish, beans and dairy products. Shoot for 46 grams of protein if you are a female of the same age.


Eat a variety of fruit, vegetables and whole grains to get the recommended 28 grams of fiber daily for an adult male over 70. If you are female, strive for 22 grams of fiber a day.

Vitamins and Minerals

Some of your micronutrient needs increase as you age. Eating a variety of whole foods each day will help you meet your vitamin and mineral needs.

Strive for 800 international units of vitamin D from fish, egg yolks, fortified foods and supplements every day.

The amount of stomach acid you produce decreases with age or certain medications. This may put you at risk for vitamin B-12 deficiency and symptoms like depression and fatigue. Supplements and fortified foods, such as orange juice, milk and yogurt are usually well-absorbed by your body.

The amount of vitamin B-6 you need increases as you get older. You need 1.7 milligrams daily if you are male and 1.5 milligrams if you are female. Eat chicken, fish, potatoes and fruit to meet your vitamin B-6 needs.

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  1. Claudine Walker
    Posted June 7, 2015 at 9:39 pm PST

    Looking for a brand name . Vitamin for lady over 70.

  2. Posted June 8, 2015 at 3:34 pm PST

    Thank you for your question! With so many supplements out there it’s not easy to choose. One way to pick a vitamin supplement brand is to look for one that has the USP designation on the label. Supplements that are verified by the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) have met standards of quality, purity, potency, performance, and consistency and are made with current FDA good manufacturing practices. Many major brands carry the USP seal, including Nature Made®, Schiff® and Kirkland Signature™.

    Beyond that it’s a good idea to pick a multivitamin for your specific age group. Multivitamins that are marketed to seniors or adults over 50 years old usually contain more calcium and vitamins D and B12 with less iron. Ask your doctor if you need to supplement specific vitamins or minerals in addition to what’s in your multivitamin. Seniors are commonly deficient in vitamin D, for example. And of course, try to get most of your nutrients from healthy foods, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds and lean meat, poultry and fish.

  3. Posted October 27, 2017 at 12:11 am PST

    Thanks for sharing the details. It’s crucial for seniors to eat a nutritious diet every day or consult a professional to make a diet plan for them. You are spot on. The number of calories needed may vary based on sex, weight, or age.

  4. Posted October 27, 2017 at 8:25 am PST

    Thank you for your comment, Joe!

  5. Posted December 26, 2017 at 6:49 am PST

    I think you need to be more specific. Considering many Type 11 Diabetics that may be on METFORMIN they need to increase Vitamin B12 which this drug destroys which my doctor administers.

  6. Posted December 27, 2017 at 9:17 am PST

    Hi Susan, thank you for bringing this up! There are many drug-nutrient interactions that are not mentioned here. It’s a good practice to ask your doctor or pharmacist about any interactions with medications you are taking. There are also some good resources out there on the topic. Here is one: Food Medication Interactions 18th Edition.

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