Dietary Requirements

The aim of this assignment is to investigate the dietary requirements for people of different ages, gender and lifestyles. This will include looking at the nutrients found in a variety of different food groups and also calorie intake.

As males require a higher calorie intake than females, when referring to a persons calorie requirement at different stages I will be stating the number as male/female, e.g. at age 0-3 months a male requires 545 kcal and females require 515 kcal, so this will be expressed as 0-3 months = 545/515 kcal.

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Calorie Intake

A person’s energy requirement will vary throughout their life due to growth and activity levels, increasing greatly through its early stages, puberty and teens, then declining slowly from the age of twenty.

Over the first four months breast milk is fed to a baby, which provides the required antibodies and nutrition. At this stage the calorie requirement is 545/515.

Between four to six months, the energy requirement is increased to 690/645. During this weaning stage the baby is fed pureed baby food, either homemade or shop bought, specifically for babies of that age and not contain any cow’s milk, wheat, citrus fruits or added salt.

At six months, solid foods can be introduced; as the energy requirements go up to 825/765 at seven months, 920/865 at ten. It is still important to avoid added salt during this time.

At twelve months, cow’s milk may replace breast milk to supplement what is now a solid food diet.

Toddlers of one to three years old need 1230/1165 calories per day. A balanced diet is important over these years as the toddler is using lots of energy whilst learning to walk and run.

Children need lots of energy as they are constantly growing, learning and being active. From age four a child will need around 1715/1545 and from seven 1970/1740.

Puberty starts at around age 11 and children will need an even higher amount of energy intake of 2220/1845. This is an important time for development. The energy requirements go up again at fifteen to 2755/2110. This is the highest throughout a person’s life as this is when all the final stages of development and growth take place. This is also when we learn vital skills for life, meaning high energy levels are important not only for growth but for good concentration. Whilst teenagers are developing, hormones are playing a major role in day to day life; therefore a good diet is important to stay healthy.

Once an adult, a person’s energy intake lowers again. At age 19 this is lowered to 2550/1940. This remains the same for several decades as there is not much more growth to account for. This decreases in males to 2380 at age sixty, 2330 at sixty five and 2100 at seventy five. In females, the energy requirement lowers to 1900 at age fifty and drops again to 1810 at age seventy five. These decreases in later life can be attributed to a person’s general lifestyle, such as retirement.

As well as growth, energy is needed for the every day workings of the body, whether the person is sleeping, relaxing, walking, or running a marathon.

There are a few exceptions to these energy requirements. A pregnant woman will require extra energy, depending at which stages of the pregnancy, to cope with the demands of the growing baby. The woman will also need to intake extra iron, calcium and folic acid.

This will also increase if the individual is undergoing physical activity.

Energy and Nutrients

All children and adults need to eat a good variety of fruit and vegetables. A combination of green leafy vegetables, red berries and other fruits and vegetables give a good balance of vitamins. Five portions of fruit and vegetables a day is the government recommended allowance. Fruit juice will only account for one portion as it is lacking in the fibre found in the flesh and the skin.

We obtain our energy from macronutrients in our food, which consists of protein, fats and carbohydrates. Energy is also provided by alcohol.

Protein – 1g provides 4 kcal (17kJ)

Found in meat, pulses and fish. This helps build and repair body tissues. This should be consumed when training intensely and recovering from injury, more so for sports such as weight lifting.

Fats – 1g provides 9 kcal (37kJ)

Found in oils, dairy products, nuts, meat and fish. This provides slow energy, needed for walking and low impact physical activity.

Alcohol – 1g provides 7 kcal (29kJ)

Carbohydrates – 1g provides 3.75 kcal (16kJ)

Found in pasta, cereals and potatoes. This provides quick energy, needed for sports such as running and cycling.

Although vitamins, minerals, fibre and water don’t provide energy, they are still important in maintaining a healthy body.

Minerals aid the release of energy from macronutrients. Fibre helps maintain healthy digestion and weight control. Different vitamins help different aspects of keeping the body healthy, such as vitamin A aids vision, vitamin B assists in energy production and lowering stress levels, vitamin C for healthy skin, vitamin D for healthy bones and teeth.

Water is essential, especially during physical activity as fluids are lost from the body through perspiration; drinking water helps maintain these levels within the body, preventing dehydration.

Whilst children and teenagers are growing up, calcium is important to develop healthy teeth and bones. Dairy products such as milk, butter and cheese are high in calcium. Soya is a good dairy alternative for those who may be lactose intolerant or who prefer a lower fat product.

Over half of the adult population in the UK is overweight. Getting the right balance between energy input and energy output is vital to keeping fit and healthy, and avoid becoming overweight. We need to make sure that the energy we take in from proteins, fats, carbohydrates and alcohol is enough to meet the needs of our energy outputs, basal metabolic rate and physical activity level.

High in fat and sugar or heavily processed and fried foods should be avoided such as: ready meals; white bread; cakes, biscuits, chocolate and sweets; chips and crisps.

Obesity can lead to other health issues such as joint problems, high bloody pressure, heart disease and diabetes; all of which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Conclusion

A balanced diet is essential at any stage in life, and energy levels should reflect the individual’s age, gender and lifestyle in order to maintain a healthy energy balance. Everyone should eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and try to avoid foods high in fat, sugar and salt. Fresh foods are of more benefit than processed.