Educate. Empower. Prevent.

Division of the J. Moss Foundation

Different ages, different requirement to be healthy!

The multi-generational family is making a comeback!

The blended family, job losses, home foreclosures, and aging parents are all reasons an extra chair (or two) are being pulled up to the dinner table. It’s the 2010 version of the Brady bunch, which could now includes babies, toddlers, preschool and school age children, teenagers, 20s, 30s, pregnant women, over the hill, and our beloved seniors.

Each person is at a different phase in life, and requires his/her own special dietary attention. So how do you keep up the with balanced nutrition for different age groups, and keep a healthy home? Good question. I’d say plant your family tree and watch it grow!  With the right nutrition, of course!

By Ronaldo F Cabuhat

Different ages, different requirement to be healthy!  Here are some important nutrients for the family members in your home:

Babies:  Vitamin D, Iron, Zinc, Calcium, Vitamin A, B12

Toddlers:  Calcium, Vitamin D, Iron, Zinc, B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin A

School Age:  Calcium, Vitamin D, B6, Zinc, fiber, Iron

Teenagers:  Calcium, Iron, Zinc, fiber

Adults:  Calcium, Iron, Zinc, fiber

Seniors: Calcium, Iron, Vitamin D, Zinc, Vitamin A, C, and E, fiber, B12

The nutrition needs of our family are always changing. To adapt to this ever-changing household, first focus on the roots of your family tree, the minerals that are essential for all ages- Calcium, Iron, and Zinc.  Let’s say a house had a teenager, toddler, and an elderly family member all sitting at the same table for dinner.


When it comes to Calcium, teenagers need 250% of the Calcium a toddlers needs.  But if your toddler or teenager drinks or eats too much milk or calcium rich foods, they may become deficient in another mineral, Iron

Our children are at risk!  Studies show that ~75% of teenagers are falling short of their Calcium needs.   Now that your 16 year old teenage boy is flying more independently and sprouting up taller than you, you may want to keep tabs on what he is drinking.  The teenage years are very important for bone growth, which in typical teenage fashion, your teenager may not care about and would rather drink Calcium’s competitor, soda and energy drinks.  A teenager needs 1300 mg Calcium per day, the highest of any age group.  In order to meet these sky-high requirements, your teenager needs to get 4-5 servings of milk or other dairy sources every day!   

Good sources of Calcium are primarily dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, pudding, and regular cheeses.  But you can also find some Calcium in smaller amounts in Calcium fortified OJ, tofu, and green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, kale, and turnip greens. 

If lactose intolerance is a problem for your family, be sure to try soymilk, it contains about the same amount of Calcium as a glass of milk. 

There are many additional factors to consider, like how well our body absorbs Calcium. Some factors help and some make it more difficult!  These factors include Vitamin D, Sodium, Potassium, Fiber, Protein, Caffeine, Alcohol, Age, Ethnicity, and Pregnancy to name a few.  Our bodies are so complex; sometimes it’s not as easy as drinking 3 cups of milk a day!


Iron is what helps oxygen get to all parts of your body, iron deficiency is the number one nutritional disorder in the world (WHO), resulting in feeling tired or weak, poor school performances, increased illness.  Iron deficiency anemia can be a problem especially for pregnant women, premature babies, toddlers, teenage girls, athletes, overweight children, and people with renal failure and gastrointestinal disorders.

Females 14-50 years of age have the highest Iron requirements related to increased blood loss with their monthly cycles.  Be sure the women in your family are eating food rich in iron all month long!  Try adding spinach to salads or sandwiches, offer OJ with your morning oatmeal, and include meat, poultry or fish in your evening meal.

Iron is found in both animal sources, such as red meats, chicken, turkey, and fish, as well as plant sources including cereals, oatmeal, soybeans, lentils, beans, and spinach.  Look for foods that have greater than 20% of the Daily Value for Iron on the nutrition label. 


Keep you immune function up and kids growing with Zinc!  Children can often be picky resulting in poor intakes often times of meats, which may result in zinc deficiency.  Inadequate zinc intake may cause your child not to grow as well, may cause problems with their hair, nails, and skin, or may decrease their appetites.  Loss of appetite may also be a concern for the older family members who may not be eating enough overall, therefore eating less zinc. 

If your 2 year old little princess is stuck on macaroni and cheese and nothing else, she may be in need of more zinc!  Try making that macaroni and cheese with lean hamburger meat! 

The best sources of zinc are found in red meats and chicken, but also found in cereals fortified with zinc, beans, peas, oatmeal, milk and nuts. 

Calcium, Iron, and Zinc are essential parts of your family’s diet, but what happens when you add other factors in such as trying to lose weight, lower your cholesterol, lactose intolerance, athletes to feed, vegetarian, control diabetes, and other factors complicating your family’s dinner.

Making a healthy meal for your family tree can be as difficult as keeping up with each and every one of their needs!   To learn more about the nutritional needs of your family tree, join our free seminars! To find out about upcoming dates follow our blog or follow us on facebook.

Leave a Reply