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New dietary guidelines have considerable focus on excessive sodium consumption



Nutrition, Vitamins & Supplements for Seniors

New Dietary Guidelines Have Advice for Older Americans on Theme of Preventing Obesity

USDA and HHS issued latest advice to help Americans make healthier food choices, exercise

Jan. 31, 2011 – The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released today by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services. Although there is not a special section of the report focusing on senior citizens, it does contain some pin point advice for older Americans, particularly in line with the emphasis of the guidelines on better control of obesity.

Because more than one-third of children and more than two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, the 7th edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans places stronger emphasis on reducing calorie consumption and increasing physical activity.

The guidelines are described as the federal government's evidence-based nutritional guidance to promote health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity through improved nutrition and physical activity.


Related Archive Stories


Heart Association Urges All Americans Limit Sodium Intake to 1500 mg, Not Just Seniors

Photo from Quality Assurance & Food Safety Magazine, see Industry Response in table below.Too much salt a major health risk – 90% of U.S. population will develop hypertension -Jan. 14, 2011

Read more on Nutrition, Vitamins & Supplements


 “The 2010 Dietary Guidelines are being released at a time when the majority of adults and one in three children is overweight or obese and this is a crisis that we can no longer ignore,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. 

Key Recommendations for Older Adults

Individuals ages 50 years and older

   ● Consume foods fortified with vitamin B12, such as fortified cereals, or dietary supplements.

   ● Reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) and further reduce intake to 1,500 mg among persons who are 51 and older and those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. The 1,500 mg recommendation applies to about half of the U.S. population, including children, and the majority of adults.

(Lower sodium AIs (Adequate Intakes) were established for children and older adults (ages 1 to 3 years: 1,000 mg/day; ages 4 to 8 years: 1,200 mg/day; ages 51 to 70 years: 1,300 mg/ day; ages 71 years and older: 1,200 mg/day) because their calorie requirements are lower.)

   ● Adults ages 65 years and older who are overweight are encouraged to not gain additional weight. Among older adults who are obese, particularly those with cardiovascular disease risk factors, intentional weight loss can be beneficial and result in improved quality of life and reduced risk of chronic disease and associated disabilities.

   ● Due to reductions in basal metabolic rate that occurs with aging, calorie needs generally decrease for adults as the age.

See more recommendations for senior citizens below news report.

“These new and improved dietary recommendations give individuals the information to make thoughtful choices of healthier foods in the right portions and to complement those choices with physical activity. 

"The bottom line is that most Americans need to trim our waistlines to reduce the risk of developing diet-related chronic disease. Improving our eating habits is not only good for every individual and family, but also for our country.”

The new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans focus on balancing calories with physical activity, and encourage Americans to consume more healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood, and to consume less sodium, saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and refined grains.

“Helping Americans incorporate these guidelines into their everyday lives is important to improving the overall health of the American people,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “The new Dietary Guidelines provide concrete action steps to help people live healthier, more physically active and longer lives.”

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans include 23 Key Recommendations for the general population and six additional Key Recommendations for specific population groups, such as women who are pregnant.

Key Recommendations are the most important messages within the Guidelines in terms of their implications for improving public health, according to a news release issue with the recommendations.  The recommendations, it says, are intended as an integrated set of advice to achieve an overall healthy eating pattern.  To get the full benefit, all Americans should carry out the Dietary Guidelines recommendations in their entirety.

More consumer-friendly advice and tools, including a next generation Food Pyramid, will be released by USDA and HHS in the coming months. Below is a preview of some of the tips that will be provided to help consumers translate the Dietary Guidelines into their everyday lives:

   ● Enjoy your food, but eat less.

   ● Avoid oversized portions.

   ● Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.

   ● Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.

   ● Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals – and choose the foods with lower numbers.

   ● Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

This edition of the Dietary Guidelines comes at a critical juncture for America’s health and prosperity.   By adopting the recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines, Americans can live healthier lives and contribute to a lowering of health-care costs, helping to strengthen America’s long-term economic competitiveness and overall productivity.

USDA and HHS have conducted this latest review of the scientific literature, and have developed and issued the 7th edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in a joint effort that is mandated by Congress. The Guidelines form the basis of nutrition education programs, Federal nutrition assistance programs such as school meals programs and Meals on Wheels programs for seniors, and dietary advice provided by health professionals.

The Dietary Guidelines, based on the most sound scientific information, provide authoritative advice for people 2 years and older about how proper dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases.

The Dietary Guidelines aid policymakers in designing and implementing nutrition-related programs. They also provide education and health professionals, such as nutritionists, dietitians, and health educators with a compilation of the latest science-based recommendations. A table with key consumer behaviors and potential strategies for professionals to use in implementing the Dietary Guidelines is included in the appendix.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines is available at

For more information on dietary guidelines, see  and

More Recommendations for Older Adults 

Estimated Calorie Needs per Day for Adults Age 51+ by Gender and Physical Activity Level




Moderately Active












a. Based on Estimated Energy Requirements (EER) equations, using reference heights (average) and reference weights (healthy) for each age/gender group. For adults, the reference man is 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 154 pounds. The reference woman is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 126 pounds.

b. Sedentary means a lifestyle that includes only the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life. Moderately active means a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking about 1.5 to 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life. Active means a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking more than 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.

c. The calorie ranges shown are to accommodate needs of different ages within the group. For adults, fewer calories are needed at older ages.


Physical Activity Guidelines (2008) - These are not new but emphasized in report

Adults 65 years and older

   ● Older adults should follow the adult guidelines. When older adults cannot meet the adult guide-lines, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions will allow.

   ● Older adults should do exercises that maintain or improve balance if they are at risk of falling.

   ● Older adults should determine their level of effort for physical activity relative to their level of fitness.

   ● Older adults with chronic conditions should understand whether and how their conditions affect their ability to do regular physical activity safely.

Adult Guidelines - Age 18 to 64 years

   ● All adults should avoid inactivity. Some physical activity is better than none, and adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits.

   ● For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week.

   ● For additional and more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond this amount.

   ● Adults should also include muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.


a. Moderate-intensity physical activity: Aerobic activity that increases a person’s heart rate and breathing to some extent. On a scale relative to a person’s capacity, moderate-intensity activity is usually a 5 or 6 on a 0 to 10 scale. Brisk walking, dancing, swimming, or bicycling on a level terrain are examples.

b. Vigorous-intensity physical activity: Aerobic activity that greatly increases a person’s heart rate and breathing. On a scale relative to a person’s capacity, vigorous-intensity activity is usually a 7 or 8 on a 0 to 10 scale. Jogging, singles tennis, swimming continuous laps, or bicycling uphill are examples.

c. Muscle-strengthening activity: Physical activity, including exercise that increases skeletal muscle strength, power, endurance, and mass. It includes strength training, resistance training, and muscular strength and endurance exercises.

d. Bone-strengthening activity: Physical activity that produces an impact or tension force on bones, which promotes bone growth and strength. Running, jumping rope, and lifting weights are examples.

Key Recommendations

   ● Reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) and further reduce intake to 1,500 mg among persons who are 51 and older and those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. The 1,500 mg recommendation applies to about half of the U.S. population, including children, and the majority of adults.

   ● Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids by replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

   ● Consume less than 300 mg per day of dietary cholesterol.

   ● Keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible, especially by limiting foods that contain synthetic sources of trans fats, such as partially hydrogenated oils, and by limiting other solid fats.

   ● Reduce the intake of calories from solid fats and added sugars.

   ● Limit the consumption of foods that contain refined grains, especially refined grain foods that contain solid fats, added sugars, and sodium.

   ● If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age.

     > One drink is defined as 12 fluid ounces of regular beer (5% alcohol), 5 fluid ounces of wine (12% alcohol), or 1.5 fluid ounces of 80 proof (40% alcohol) distilled spirits. One drink contains 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol.

     > Strong evidence from observational studies has shown that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Moderate alcohol consumption also is associated with reduced risk of all-cause mortality among middle-aged and older adults and may help to keep cognitive function intact with age. However, it is not recommended that anyone begin drinking or drink more frequently on the basis of potential health benefits because moderate alcohol intake also is associated with increased risk of breast cancer, violence, drowning, and injuries from falls and motor vehicle crashes.

Nutritional Supplements


Adequate calcium status is important for optimal bone health. In addition, calcium serves vital roles in nerve transmission, constriction and dilation of blood vessels, and muscle contraction. A significant number of Americans have low bone mass, a risk factor for osteoporosis, which places them at risk of bone fractures. Age groups of particular concern due to low calcium intake from food include children ages 9 years and older, adolescent girls, adult women, as well as adults ages 51 years and older. All ages are encouraged to meet their Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for calcium.

Milk and milk products contribute substantially to calcium intake by Americans. Calcium recommendations may be achieved by consuming recommended levels of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products and/or consuming alternative calcium sources.

Vitamin D

Adequate vitamin D status is important for health. Extreme lack of vitamin D (i.e., vitamin D deficiency) results in rickets in children and osteomalacia (softening of bones) in adults. Adequate vitamin D also can help reduce the risk of bone fractures. Although dietary intakes of vitamin D are below recommendations, recent data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) indicate that more than 80 percent of Americans have adequate vitamin D blood levels. Vitamin D is unique in that sunlight on the skin enables the body to make vitamin D.

In the United States, most dietary vitamin D is obtained from fortified foods, especially fluid milk and some yogurts (Appendix 15). Some other foods and beverages, such as breakfast cereals, margarine, orange juice, and soy beverages, also are commonly fortified with this nutrient. Natural sources of vitamin D include some kinds of fish (e.g., salmon, herring, mackerel, and tuna) and egg yolks, which have smaller amounts. It also is available in the form of dietary supplements.

The RDAs for vitamin D, which assume minimal sun exposure, are 600 IU (15 mcg) per day for children and most adults and 800 IU (20 mcg) for adults older than 70 years. As intake increases above 4,000 IU (100 mcg) per day, the potential risk of adverse effects increases.

Vitamin B12:

On average, Americans ages 50 years and older consume adequate vitamin B12. Nonetheless, a substantial proportion of individuals ages 50 years and older may have reduced ability to absorb naturally occurring vitamin B12. However, the crystalline form of the vitamin is well absorbed. Therefore, individuals age 50 years and older are encouraged to include foods fortified with vitamin B12, such as fortified cereals, or take dietary supplements.

Foods fortified with the crystalline form of vitamin B12, such as fortified cereals, or vitamin B12 supplements, are encouraged for individuals older than age 50 years. A substantial proportion of these individuals may have reduced ability to absorb naturally occurring vitamin B12, but their ability to absorb the crystalline form is not affected. In addition, vegans should ensure adequate intake of vitamin B12 through fortified foods or supplements.

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