People tend to become less active and to eat less as they age. This makes
them vulnerable to getting too few nutrients, note Tufts University nutrition
expert Alice H. Lichtenstein, ScD, and colleagues.
Editor's Note: Food Pyramid Replaced
In June 2011, the USDA replaced the food pyramid with a new plate icon.
Moreover, older adults may not be as Internet savvy as younger adults,
making it hard for them to use the USDA's official, web-based
"MyPyramid" food guide. So Lichtenstein's team has updated their 1999
"Modified Food Guide Pyramid" for older adults to create their new
"Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults" in print form.
"The basic message in the Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults is that it
is preferable to get essential nutrients from food rather than
supplements," Lichtenstein and colleagues note.
However, a little flag flying atop the pyramid signals seniors that
supplements or fortified foods -- particularly those containing calcium,
vitamin D, or vitamin B-12 -- may be helpful for many seniors but not for
At the bottom of the pyramid are icons representing physical activities
appropriate for healthy seniors. Next comes a row of water glasses, stressing
the importance of fluid intake for older people.
Above these rows, the different food groups portray healthy choices in forms
-- such as packages of frozen vegetables -- easily accessible to seniors.
Emphasis is on:
Whole grains and a variety of grains
Variety and nutrient-density of fruits and vegetables
Low-fat and nonfat dairy foods, including milk products with reduced
Oils low in saturated fats and lacking trans fats
Low-saturated fat and vegetable choices in the meat-and-beans food
Fiber-rich foods in all food groups
"It is important to communicate to older adults that eating should
remain an enjoyable experience," Lichtenstein and colleagues note. "The
guidance provided can be used as a road map and should be adaptable so it can
accommodate many different dietary preferences, patterns, and
Lichtenstein and colleagues provide detailed recommendations in an article
in the January 2008 issue of The Journal of Nutrition.