How to Get Enough Protein as a Vegan Senior Citizen?
Protein is an essential nutrient for building and maintaining muscles, skin, and other tissues in the body. As we age, our protein needs may increase to prevent muscle loss and support healthy ageing. But how can vegan senior citizens meet their protein needs without consuming any animal proteins?
The good news is that there are plenty of plant-based foods that provide high-quality protein, as well as other important nutrients such as fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
However, vegan diets also pose some challenges, especially for older adults who may have reduced appetite, lower absorption of some nutrients, or an increased risk of certain deficiencies. Therefore, vegan senior citizens need to plan their meals carefully and ensure that they consume enough protein and other essential nutrients from a variety of plant sources.
How to get enough protein as a vegan senior citizen?
- Aim for at least 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. For example, if you weigh 60 kilograms (132 pounds), aim for 60 to 72 grams of protein per day. This is higher than the recommended intake for younger adults.
- Eat protein-rich plant foods at every meal and as a snack. Some of the best sources of plant protein are soy products (tofu, tempeh, edamame), legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas), nuts (walnuts, almonds), seeds (chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds), and grains (quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice). For example, a cup of cooked lentils has about 18 grams of protein.
- Include fortified plant milks and plant-based yoghurts in your diet. These products are usually enriched with calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and sometimes other nutrients that may be lacking in a vegan diet. They also provide some protein and can be used in smoothies, cereals, soups, sauces and desserts. For example, a cup of fortified soy milk has approximately 8 grams of protein. A number of other plant-based milks are available in the market, such as oat milk and almond milk.
- Consider using supplements if you have trouble meeting your protein needs from food alone. However, be careful not to overdo it and always check the ingredients and nutrition labels for any additives or allergens.
- Monitor your blood levels of iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and other nutrients that may be low in a vegan diet. You may need to take supplements or eat fortified foods to prevent deficiencies and maintain optimal health. For example, vegans need to take a vitamin B12 supplement or eat foods fortified with this vitamin regularly because it is commonly found naturally in animal products. Similarly, vegans may need to take a vitamin D supplement or eat foods fortified with this vitamin if they do not get enough sun exposure.
As you can see, getting enough protein as a vegan senior citizen is not impossible but requires some planning and attention. By following these tips and eating a balanced and varied diet that also includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, you can enjoy the benefits of a vegan lifestyle while meeting your nutritional needs.