Nutritional Requirements in the Life Cycle

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Nutritional Requirements in the Life Cycle

Category: Dissertation discussion

Subcategory: Energy

Level: University

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Nutritional Requirements in the Life Cycle

The type of food individuals eats plays a central role in their health. Over the years, advancements in nutrition science have made it possible to pinpoint essential nutrients and dictate the required amount with regards to the target population. Consuming foods that contain these necessary nutrients averts health complications arising from nutritional deficiencies. Presently, the number of people suffering from nutritional deficiencies in high-income countries, such as the United States, is low. However, the burden of chronic diseases associated with overconsumption, poor nutritional uptake, and lifestyle choices highlights the importance of promoting healthy eating behaviors. The current paper provides a brief discussion on the requirements of specific populations in the cycle of life. The results show that the energy needs differ from infancy to adulthood, with the latter needing less due to reduced levels of physical activities. Interestingly, the requirement of proteins, vitamins, and minerals in normal healthy individuals remains stable throughout most of their lives.
Keywords: nutritional requirement, life cycle, infant, childhood, adolescent, adulthood
Nutritional Requirements in the Life Cycle
Understanding the types and amount of foods to eat with regards to age, gender and level of physical activity is vital in maintaining a healthy life. As such, the current paper presents a concise discussion of the general nutritional needs for maternal and infant populations through to adulthood.

Life Cycle and Nutrition
Maternal and Infant Nutrition
Insel, Ross, McMahon, and Bernstein (2016) note that during pregnancy, the physiological demand on both mother and fetus is tremendous requiring adequate nutritional uptake. The authors point out that while expectant women require energy and nutrient dense foods during pregnancy, the physiological changes in their bodies do not require high-calorie intake. Comprehending such requirements will enable pregnant women to make the correct diet choices and avoid becoming obese during this period. Fundamentally, understanding the physiological changes that women undergo while pregnant is fundamental in identifying their required nutritional uptake.
Physiological changes during pregnancy. The multiple cell divisions that develop into an embryo and later become the fetus get their required nutrients from the body of the expectant woman. As such, the female body undergoes physiological changes to help cope with the demands of the developing fetus. Insel, Ross, McMahon, and Bernstein (2016) highlight three major alterations. The first is the growth of maternal tissues promoted by hormones resulting in enlarged breasts (in preparation of lactation) and increased fat storage (source of energy in late pregnancy). Secondly, an increase in the blood volume and production of red blood cells, necessitating nutrients vital to these processes such as vitamin B12, folate, and iron. Thirdly, slowed gastrointestinal motility to ensure maximum absorption of nutrients.
With the above knowledge, it is possible to outline the essential nutrients required for optimum maternal, fetal and infant health. Perhaps the most important of all macronutrients are proteins. Proteins provide the building blocks of fetal and placental tissues. Insel, Ross, McMahon, and Bernstein (2016) put the protein requirement of pregnant women at 25 grams more a day when compared to non-expectant females. Dietary fats are also significant to help aid energy production for the woman’s vital organs and development of tissues. As such, fats intake requirements are only slightly higher than for non-pregnant women. Carbohydrates are also an important macronutrient as they are the major source of calories and vitamins. Nevertheless, Insel, Ross, McMahon, and Bernstein (2016) insist on complex (whole-meal) rather than simple (refined) carbohydrates as they contain dietary fiber that will help avert constipation from the slowed gastrointestinal motility. For breastfeeding women, fats and protein intakes are similar to those of a pregnant woman. Nevertheless, lactating mothers require increased amounts of vitamins and minerals and also plenty of fluids, about two liters a day CITATION Ins16 l 2057 (Insel, Ross, McMahon, & Bernstein, 2016).
Childhood to Adulthood
Childhood. Growth in childhood is continuous. Typically, a child grows at annual rate of approximately three inches in height and 5 pounds in weight CITATION Ins16 l 2057 (Insel, Ross, McMahon, & Bernstein, 2016). This constant growth requires energy. Nevertheless, the energy requirements through childhood differ with age. For instance, Insel, Ross, McMahon, and Bernstein (2016) note that an average-year-old child requires between 850 and 1000 kcal a day. This figure grows gradually and by around 10 years, it is almost doubled. An effective way of calculating the energy requirements in childhood is by using age, height, physical activity and weight. Insel, Ross, McMahon, and Bernstein (2016) note that with age, the energy requirements per kilogram in childhood decreases. The authors also note that the above method can also be employed when determining protein requirements in that age gap. Vitamins and minerals are also essential nutritional needs. Although balanced diets provide most of the required micronutrients, special focus should be on iron and calcium. Insel, Ross, McMahon, and Bernstein (2016) opine that children between four and eight years require approximately 10 milligrams of iron in, a day, a figure that can be achieved from careful meal planning.
Adolescent. Adolescence is a time of tremendous physical and emotional growth. The rapid tissue expansion observed in adolescents requires specific nutrients to aid proper development. These nutrients include amino acids to aid growth and development of striated muscles and vitamin D and calcium to promote healthy bone growth. Energy requirements in adolescents vary with gender with males demanding more than girls. Activity levels should also dictate caloric intake to minimize accumulation of fats leading to adolescent obesity CITATION Das17 l 2057 (Das, et al., 2017).
Adult. There are numerous physiological changes related to aging. For example, the majority of adult populations gain weight as they age due to reduced physical activities. As such, it is imperative that there is proper meal planning to avoid unnecessary weight gain. For instance, energy requirements for most adults decline with time owing to the reduced physical activity. Intrinsically energy intake for adults is dependent on their level of physical activity. On the contrary, protein requirements remain constant with age. Insel, Ross, McMahon, and Bernstein (2016) opine that the focus should be on high quality proteins rather than large quantities. Carbohydrates are also an important requirement. Nevertheless, emphasis should be on complex rather than simple or refined carbohydrates. Complex or unrefined carbohydrates contain dietary fibers that improve movement of food in the gastrointestinal tract and helps prevent constipation. Insel, Ross, McMahon, and Bernstein (2016) note that fiber also plays a key role in reducing levels of cholesterol in blood minimizing the risk of heart diseases. Fats are also essential requirements for adults. However, concentrating on unsaturated fats is recommended as it minimizes the buildup of cholesterol in the blood. Vitamins and minerals are a vital necessity during the aging process. Similar to protein needs, vitamin requirements remain constant while aging. Insel, Ross, McMahon, and Bernstein (2016) note that vitamin D is essential for proper bone health in adults while B vitamins reduce the risk of cardiovascular and neurological conditions. Antioxidant uptake is also important as it reduces oxidative stress and the probability for degenerative diseases. Adequate calcium intake is crucial in maintaining sufficient bone density in both young and older adults. Iron remains vital throughout life. Insel, Ross, McMahon, and Bernstein (2016) note that the daily recommended intake is around eight milligrams in a day. This figure is slightly higher for women who have not experienced menopause.
Numerous studies reveal that improper and inadequate nutrition is a contributing factor to disease development. It is, therefore, imperative to comprehend the right foods to ingest and those to keep off. As such, the current paper has provided a concise discussion on the nutritional needs of specific populations in the cycle of life. A key point outlined in the paper is that personalized nutritional requirements are dictated not only by age and gender but also the level of physical activity. Additionally, the paper reveals that although energy requirements decline with age, the needs for proteins, vitamins, and minerals remain stable.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Das, J. K., Salam, R. A., Thornburg, K. L., Prentice, A. M., Campisi, S., Lassi, Z. S., . . . Bhutta, Z. A. (2017). Nutrition in adolescents: physiology, metabolism, and nutritional needs. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1393(1), 21-33.
Insel, P., Ross, D., McMahon, K., & Bernstein, M. (2016). Nutrition (6th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

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