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Substances which provide energy

Carbohydrates

Grains contain a rich amount of carbohydrates. They are placed at the bottom of the Elderly's Healthy Eating Food Pyramid, and should be consumed the most. Carbohydrates is the main source of energy, it regulates the metabolism of fat in order to cope with the body's daily consumption. Many people refrain from eating rice or starch-rich food for fears of starch and an increase in body weight. Actually, it is important for the body to take in a suitable amount of carbohydrates. Taking in more calories than the body burns each day is one of the actual reasons for an increase in body weight.

Please refer to the following websites for more information on carbohydrates:
Carbohydrates (We Change for Health, Department of Health)
Nutrients Definition and Function (Centre for Food Safety)

Protein

Protein is composed of different kinds of amino acids. There are certain kinds of amino acids which are necessary but cannot be produced by the human body or in sufficient amounts. They can only be taken from food. Protein helps the growth and restoration of body tissues. It can also produce enzymes and hormones to maintain body functions. Deficiency in protein will lead to retardation in growth, loss of muscles, deterioration of immunity, edema, decline in the functions of the cardiac and respiratory systems. We should eat food which is rich in protein everyday, such as meat, fish, eggs and beans.

Please refer to the following websites for information on protein:
Protein (We Change for Health, Department of Health)
Nutrients Definition and Function (Centre for Food Safety)

Fat

Dietary fats can be divided into monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, saturated fat and trans fat. Monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat can improve the cholesterol level in the blood. But saturated fat and trans fat will raise the cholesterol level in the blood. Fat will help the body transmit and absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K. It can also provide a rich amount of fatty acids to help with body growth and metabolism. However, an excessive amount of fat will lead to obesity; saturated fat and trans fat will raise cholesterol level in blood, hence increasing the risk of heart disease. Therefore, we should only consume a small amount of fat.

Please refer to the following websites for information on fat:
Know More About Fat (Central Health Education Unit, Department of Health)
Fats (We change for health, Department of Health)
Nutrients Definition and Function (Centre for Food Safety)

Micronutrients

Vitamins

Vitamins are found in natural foods and they can be divided into two major types: water-soluble and fat-soluble. Vitamins are micronutrients and only a small amount is required by the body. However, a proper amount of intake is vital to the growth of cells and in metabolism.

Water-soluble vitamins such as B and C can be dissolved in water and absorbed by the body. The excessive amount will be passed out with the urine and it will not be stored in the body.

Fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K can only be absorbed by the body by way of fat found in the food, or food which is cooked by adding a suitable amount of oil. However, excessive fat-soluble vitamins will be stored in the body and poisoning may result.

Water-soluble vitamins
Elderly people need vitamins such as vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7 and B12 to regulate their metabolic rate, keep the heart’s functions normal, the skin and muscles healthy and boost immunity.

Vitamin B1
Functions: protects the nervous system, helps bowel movement and prevents beriberi
Food sources: peas, whole-cereal foods, beans, nuts, fish, lean meat, eggs, corn and kale etc.

Vitamin B2
Functions: cures migraine
Food sources: milk, yogurt, whole-wheat bread, whole-cereal foods, nuts, eggs, corn, beans, peas, spinach, meats etc.

Vitamins B3
Functions: helps the metabolism of fats, cures rheumatism
Food sources: milk, yogurt, whole-wheat bread, nuts, eggs, fish, lean meat, animal liver and kidney etc.

Vitamin B5
Functions: helps metabolism of the body, prevents the appearance of acne and pimples
Food sources: brown rice, corn, nuts, peas, green-leaf vegetables etc.

Vitamin B6
Functions: reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The lack of vitamin B6 will lead to hypertension, dermatitis and so on.
Food sources: brown rice, bananas, grapes, tomatoes, whole-cereal foods, nuts, eggs, spinach, beans, peas, kale, fish, carrots etc.

Vitamin B7
Functions: improves metabolism of fatty acids
Food sources: tomatoes, peanuts, nuts, eggs, Romaine lettuce, carrots etc.

Vitamin B12
Functions: cures malignant anemia, reduces heart attacks, strokes, hardening of arteries
Food sources: milk, eggs, pork, beef, liver, kidney etc.

Vitamin C
Functions: reduces influenza symptoms, helps absorb iron, prevents heart disease and stroke, lowers the incidence of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, cataract and such like chronic diseases
Food sources: fruits, green pepper, tomatoes, corn, kale etc
Suggestion: Vitamin C will disappear in the process of heating and so vegetables should be stir-fry quickly.

Fat-soluble vitamins

Vitamin A
Functions: protects the eyes, prevents night blindness, cures eye dryness, protects cells at the surface of the skin
Food sources: carrots, pumpkins, spinach, kale, milk, eggs etc.
Suggestion: Oil should be added when stir-frying, this makes Vitamin A dissolve in the oil and helps absorption.

Vitamin D
Functions: promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphorous, strengthens teeth and bones, prevents hypertension, multiple sclerosis, degenerative joint disease, and heals migraine
Food sources: wolfberries, milk, mushrooms, fish etc.

Vitamin E
Functions: increases immunity of elderly persons, increases anti-oxidation of the skin, promotes the formation of normal red blood cells
Food sources: dark green vegetables, nuts, melon seeds, eggs, sesame oil, vegetable oil, germs of cereals etc.

Vitamin K
Functions: helps blood coagulation, strengthens bones, prevents loss of bone matters
Food sources: green-leaf vegetables, wolfberries, tomatoes, dates, broccoli, Romaine lettuce etc.
Suggestion: Vitamin K can increase the density of the Prothrombin and hence reduce the efficacy of Warfarin. People who take Warfarin should be careful with consuming food with Vitamin K.

Please refer to the following websites on the vitamin concerned:
Vitamins and Health (Elderly Health Service, Department of Health)
Nutrients Definition and Function (Centre for Food Safety)

Minerals

The human body needs to take in a suitable amount of minerals to maintain the normal operation of body functions and stay healthy. Minerals can help with blood coagulation, carrying oxygen in blood, heartbeat, transmission of nerve impulses and metabolism. Deficiency in minerals or an excessive intake of minerals may be harmful to the body. If you follow the balanced diet as recommended in the Elderly's Healthy Eating Food Pyramid, this will ensure that you take in a sufficient amount of minerals in your diet.

Calcium
Functions: strengthens teeth and bones, enhances transmission of nervous impulses, muscle contraction and blood coagulation
Food sources: fish that can be consumed together with its bones (such as sardines), green-leaf vegetables, beans, tofu, almond, sesame, milk and dairy products, kelp etc.
Note: Deficiency in calcium may lead to dental diseases and osteoporosis, but an excessive intake of calcium will lead to the formation of kidney stones

Phosphorous
Functions: helps adjust the balance between acid and alkaline in the body, strengthens bones and teeth, assists in metabolising carbohydrates and fats, keeps the kidney healthy
Food sources: nuts, cheese, fish etc.

Magnesium
Functions: helps with protein synthesis, normal contraction of muscles, transmission of nervous impulses and keeps the bones in a good condition
Food sources: green-leaf vegetables, nuts, beans, fish, shellfish such as clams etc.

Potassium
Functions: maintains water and acid-alkaline balance, regular heartbeat and transmission of nervous impulses. Conversely, an excessive intake of potassium will affect the functions of the heart
Food sources: potatoes, bananas, star fruits, nuts etc.

Sodium
Functions: the main isotonic substance in the human body, it maintains water and acid-alkaline balance and enables the muscles and nervous system to function normally
Food sources: salt, soy sauce, processed or pickled food.
Note: An excessive intake of sodium will increase the risks of hypertension and the loss of calcium

Chlorine
Functions: achieve a balance of isotonic substances
Food sources: salt, tomatoes, celery, lettuce etc.

Iron
Functions: manufactures red blood cells and prevents anemia
Food sources: black sesame, pumpkin seeds, beef, cereals, liver and internal organs of animals etc.
Note: An excessive intake of iron will lead to constipation and liver failure.

Copper
Functions: forms enzymes and protein in the human body, maintains metabolism
Food sources: internal organs of animals, oyster, mushrooms, beans etc.

Zinc
Functions: helps to produce protein and male hormones; maintains the functions of enzymes, muscle contractions and helps wounds to heal
Food sources: lean red meat, whole-cereal foods, beans etc.

Iodine
Functions: produces thyroxin and maintains normal functions of the thyroid, regulates metabolism and keeps the hair, skin and nails healthy
Food sources: green vegetables, seaweeds, kelp, dairy products, egg, seafood etc.

Selenium
Functions: anti-oxidation, regulates metabolism in the thyroid, the redox state of vitamin C, and so on
Food sources: lean meat, seafood, eggs, pumpkins, broccolis etc.

Please refer to the following websites for information on minerals:
Nutrients Definition and Function (Centre for Food Safety)
Minerals (Department of Health)