Nutritional needs for different age groups

Useful link from BNF

Factors affecting requirements
• Age – the RNI for vitamin C for a child aged 1 year and under is 25mg/d, and for an adult is 40mg/d
• Gender – the RNI for iron in women aged 19-50 years is 14.8mg/d, which is higher than for men (8.7 mg/d) to cover menstrual losses
• Growth – adolescents have higher calcium requirements to cover their bone growth
• Pregnancy and Lactation – The RNI for vitamin D in women that are pregnant or breastfeeding is 10 μg/d, whereas there is no RNI set for women of childbearing age who are not pregnant or breastfeeding.

Infants First 4-6 months of life (period of rapid growth and development) breast milk (or infant formula) contains all the nutrients required.
Between 6-12 months – requirements for iron, protein, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, magnesium, zinc, sodium and chloride increase.
Department of Health advice recommends exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months of age with weaning introduced at 6 months.
1-3 years Energy requirements increase (children are active and growing rapidly). Protein requirements increase slightly. Vitamins requirements increase (except vitamin D). Mineral requirements decrease for calcium, phosphorus and iron and
increase for the remaining minerals (except for Zinc).
4-6 years Requirements for energy, protein, all the vitamins and minerals increase except C and D and iron.
7-10 years Requirements for energy, protein, all vitamins and minerals increase except thiamin, vitamin C and A.
11-14 years  Requirements for energy continue to increase and protein requirements increase by approximately 50%.
By the age of 11, the vitamin and mineral requirements for boys and girls start to differ.
Boys: increased requirement for all the vitamins and minerals.
Girls: no change in the requirement for thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, but there is an increased requirement for all the minerals. Girls have a much higher iron requirement than boys (once menstruation starts).
15-18 years  Boys: requirements for energy and protein continue to increase as do the requirements for a number of vitamins and minerals (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamins B6, B12, C and A, magnesium,potassium, zinc, copper, selenium and iodine). Calcium requirements remain high as skeletal development is rapid.
Girls: requirements for energy, protein, thiamin, niacin, vitamins B6, B12 and C, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, copper, selenium and iodine all increase.
Boys and girls have the same requirement for vitamin B12, folate, vitamin C, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride and copper. Girls have a higher requirement than boys for iron (due to menstrual losses) but a lower requirement for zinc and calcium.
19-50 years Requirements for energy, calcium and phosphorus are lower for both men and women than adolescents and a reduced requirement in women for magnesium, and in men for iron. The requirements for protein and most of the vitamins and minerals remain virtually unchanged in comparison to adolescents (except for selenium in men which increases slightly).
Pregnancy Increased requirements for some nutrients. Women intending to become pregnant and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy are advised to take supplements of folic acid. Additional energy and thiamin are required only during the last three months of pregnancy. Mineral requirements do not increase.
Lactation Increased requirement for energy, protein, all the vitamins (except B6), calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, copper and selenium.
50+ years Energy requirements decrease gradually after the age of 50 in women and age 60 in men as people typically become less active and the basal metabolic rate is reduced. Protein requirements decrease for men but continue to increase slightly in women. The requirements for vitamins and minerals remain virtually unchanged for both men and women. After the menopause, women’s requirement for iron is reduced to the same level as that for men. After the age of 65 there is a reduction in energy needs but vitamins and minerals requirements remain unchanged. This means that the nutrient density of the diet is even more important.

The Eatwell Guide

The Eatwell PlateThe Eatwell Guide shows the different types of foods and drinks we should consume – and in
what proportions – to have a healthy, balanced diet.
The Eatwell Guide shows the proportions of the main food groups that form a healthy,
balanced diet:
• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day
• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates; choosing
wholegrain versions where possible
• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks); choosing lower fat and lower
sugar options
• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish
every week, one of which should be oily)
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat in small amounts
• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of fluid a day
If consuming foods and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar have these less often and in small

Regularly consuming foods and drinks high in sugar increases your risk of obesity and tooth
decay. Ideally, no more than 5% of the energy we consume should come from free sugars*.
Currently, children and adults across the UK are consuming 2-3 times that amount.

Sugary drinks have no place in a child’s daily diet but account for a surprisingly large proportion
of the daily sugar intake of both children and adults. Almost a third of the free sugars consumed
by 11-18 year olds comes from soft drinks. We should aim to swap sugary drinks for water,
lower fat milk or sugar-free drinks including tea and coffee. Be sure to check the label for added

8 tips for eating well
1. Base your meals on starchy foods
2. Eat lots of fruit and veg
3. Eat more fish – including a portion of
oily fish each week
4. Cut down on saturated fat and sugar
5. Eat less salt – no more than 6g a day
for adults
6. Get active and be a healthy weight
7. Don’t get thirsty
8. Don’t skip breakfast

Healthiest way to eat your vegetables

Article from The Times Body and Soul 22/8/2015

Vegetables are a source of Vitamin A and C, and minerals calcium and iron.

They also give phytonutrients – antioxidants thought to slow the effects of ageing of body and brain.

fiveHere are preparation tips to stop loss of nutrients:

Don’t eat salad with fat-free dressing

Why? More salad nutrients are absorbed when eaten with fat. Extra virgin olive oil contains the most phytonutrients. Green leafy veg are better stir fried with oil as it increases absorption of fat soluble vitamins – A,D, E, K.

Leave garlic for 10 mins before frying

Why? Allicin in garlic has anti-bacterial properties and heat inactivates it. By leaving it, it does its work.

Fresh or frozen?

Green beans lose 40% folic acid, zinc and vit C within 2 days. Frozen fruit and veg are chilled within hours of picking which locks in anti-oxidants which fight cancer. Farm to plate for other veg can take months so frozen can be best.

Buy whole head of broccoli not florets.

Why? Cutting destroys nutrients – anti-oxidants and phytonutrients break down by oxidation.

After 10 days – the time from field to shop – broccoli lost 75% flavonoids (anti-oxidants) and 80% glucosinolates – believed to stimulate the immune system. By freshest you can and cook straight away.

Buy canned tomatoes
Why? Cooking makes them more nutritious. Heat changes lycopene (antioxidant) so it can be absorbed. Canned tomatoes higher in phytonutrients. Tomato paste is even better. Lycopene found to protect against prostate cancer.

Use vegetable peelings

Peelings have a higher concentration of antioxidants than the rest of the vegetable so use them in cooking.

Don’t soak fruit and veg

Wash them to get rid of bacteria and pesticide residue. If you soak them, water soluble nutrients leach out. Parboil and rinse under the cold tap. Steaming, microwaving, sauteing and roasting don’t use water so are more nutritious.

Chill potatoes after cooking!

This changes the starch to a type that is digested more slowly, and contain more fibre for gut health.

Buy canned beans

Canned beans have more antioxidants than dried beans. If you prefer dried beans, let them sit in liquid for an hour after cooking to reabsorb some nutrients.


McCance and Widdowson shows 100g sugar containing 105g sugar – why?

Carbohydrate values in McCance and Widdowson (M&W) series of publications are expressed as monosaccharide equivalents.

These values can exceed 100g per 100g of food because on hydrolysis 100g of a disaccharide, such as sucrose, gives 105g monosaccharide (glucose + fructose).


Thus white sugar appears to contain 105g carbohydrate (expressed as monosaccharide) per 100g sugar.
For conversion between carbohydrate weights and monosaccharide equivalents, the values shown in Table 1 below (adapted from M&W introduction) should be used.

In trying to explain this to students (depending on the age) you could explain this using chemistry and molecular weights:

Sucrose + water → glucose + fructose

C12H22O11 + H2O → C6H12O6 + C6H12O6

342g + 18g → 180g +180g

So in this example you can see 342g of the disaccharide sucrose gives 360g monosaccharides.

Table 1



Conversion of carbohydrate weights to monosaccharide equivalents


Carbohydrate Equivalents after



Conversion to




Monosaccharides e.g. glucose,

fructose and galactose





no conversion



Disaccharides e.g. sucrose,

lactose and maltose






x  1.05


Oligosaccharides e.g.

raffinose (trisaccharide)

stachyose (tetrasaccharide)

verbascose (pentasaccharide)








x  1.07

x  1.08

x  1.09


Polysaccharides e.g. starch






x  1.10

Cut down on sugar – especially free sugars

Jamie Oliver’s Sugar Rush is campaigning to raise awareness of sugar in fizzy pop.

The Great British Bakeoff     asked contestants to make sugar free cakes but they added agave syrup and honey instead – which are counted as free sugars.

Better way to use fruit and vegetables such as carrots and apples. Dr Sally Norton said:

‘That way we will appreciate the more subtle sweetness of fruit, veg, and reduce our risk of health problems and dental decay.’

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN)

  • High levels of sugar consumption are linked with a greater risk of tooth decay.
  • The higher the proportion of sugar in the diet, the greater the risk of high energy intake.
  • Drinking high-sugar beverages results in weight gain and increases in BMI in teenagers and children.
  • Consuming too many high-sugar beverages increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Added sugar should not make up more than 5% of total energy.This around 30g of sugar a day.

In UK children aged 11-18 years are getting 15% of daily calories from added sugar.

Food label
>22.5g/100g total sugars is high

<5g/100g total sugars is low.

The drinks with up TWENTY teaspoons of sugar – Daily Mail article



The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) recommends that:

Free sugars should account for no more than 5% daily dietary energy intake.

The term free sugars is adopted, replacing the terms Non Milk Extrinsic Sugars (NMES) and added sugars ( sucrose (table sugar),fructose, glucose). Free sugars are those added to food or those naturally present in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices, but exclude lactose in milk and milk products. It does not include the sugars naturally present in intact fruit and vegetables and dairy products.

  • 19g or 5 sugar cubes for children aged 4 to 6,
  • 24g or 6 sugar cubes for children aged 7 to 10,
  • 30g or 7 sugar cubes for 11 years and over
“Cut down on sugars, increase fibre and we’ll all have a better chance of living longer, healthier lives.”


  • Table sugar (sugar cane/ beet/other sources)
  • Golden Syrup
  • Molasses or Treacle
  • Agave syrup
  • Rice malt syrup
  • Coconut blossom syrup
  • Maple syrup
  • Coconut sugar
  • Honey
  • Unsweetened fruit juice
  • **Any other sort of syrup that I have failed to mention typically used as a sugar replacer that contains sugar in the food label!


  • Lactose in milk and dairy products
  • Sugar naturally present in fruit, including dried, canned and stewed
  • Sugar naturally present in vegetables
  • Sugar naturally present in grains and cereals


At the moment food labels here in the UK only account for total sugar, not free sugars. This can make it difficult to distinguish the difference between sugars naturally present in a food and those with sugar added. Hopefully in future this will change and this report will result in changes made to food labelling laws to incorporate added sugars to help consumers make informed choices. Until this happens, look at the ingredients list to see whether there are sugars added to a particular food product. The higher up the list, the bigger the proportion as ingredients are listed in order of quantity.

Good website to use

The current recommendation that starchy carbohydrates, wholegrain where possible, should form 50% of daily calorie intake is maintained
Those aged 16 and over increase their intake of fibre to 30g a day, 25g for 11-to 15 year olds, 20g for 5 to 11 year olds and 15g for 2 to 5 year olds.
Free sugar should be reduced to 5% of daily calorie intake to improve and protect health.

New evidence has led SACN to propose broadening the definition of dietary fibre currently used in the UK. SACN is proposing that adults should consume 30g fibre/day measured according to the new definition.

The proposed new definition of fibre encompasses all carbohydrates that are naturally integrated components of foods and that are neither digested nor absorbed in the small intestine and have a degree of polymerisation of three or more monomeric units, plus lignin
30g of fibre a day by eating five portions of fruit and vegetables, two slices of wholemeal bread, a portion of high fibre breakfast cereal, a baked potato and a portion of whole wheat pasta.
 Agave comes from the cactus and is 1.5 times sweeter than sugar. It has a low glycaemic index so doesn’t cause energy spikes. It’s 90% fructose which is metabolised by the liver and converted to fat. It can lead to insulin resistance.