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50+: Live Better, Longer

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7 Signs of Inadequate Nutrition

5. Diarrhea

Chronic diarrhea can be a sign of malabsorption, which means nutrients are not being fully absorbed by your body. Malabsorption can be triggered by infection, surgery, certain drugs, heavy alcohol use, and digestive disorders such as celiac sprue and Crohn’s disease.

It’s important to consult your doctor if you experience persistent diarrhea.

6. Apathy or Irritability

Unexplained mood changes, especially feeling apathetic or irritable, can be symptoms of a serious medical illness like depression. But they can also be symptoms that your body isn’t getting the energy it needs.

If you have persistent low mood or forgetfulness, it’s important to get checked out by your doctor.

7. Lack of Appetite

With age, appetite often diminishes. Taste buds lose their sensitivity. Because seniors tend to be less active, they require fewer calories. Medications can also dampen appetite.

“Chronic lack of appetite is a serious warning sign that you may be at risk of nutritional deficiencies,” says Nancy Wellman, RD, past president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. If you find yourself skipping meals because you’re not hungry, talk to your doctor.

Blood tests can indicate if you’re deficient in a number of key nutrients. By assessing your food intake, a registered dietitian can also spot nutritional deficiencies.

“The important thing is to alert your doctor quickly if your appetite changes or you begin skipping meals,” says Wellman. That way, you can head off nutritional problems before they cause serious trouble.

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Reviewed on May 04, 2012

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