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Help Vegetarian Seniors Get Enough Protein and B12

By Debbie Waddell, 9:00 am on

While vegetarianism isn’t very common among the elderly, there are a number of seniors who do prefer to follow a meat-free diet. If your aging loved one is vegetarian, ensuring that he or she still gets the daily-recommended amounts of protein and vitamin B12 is important. To help your loved one get enough of these essential nutrients, the Placer County senior care experts at Home Care Assistance suggest incorporating the following foods into his or her diet. 

Dairy Products and Eggs
Both eggs and dairy products, including milk, cheese, and yogurt, are a good source of protein and vitamin B12. While these foods generally are high in fat, selecting the low-fat versions of dairy products and hard-boiling or poaching eggs can help reduce the calorie and fat in each serving. Aim for at least three servings of dairy a day, as recommended by the USDA, and two to three servings of eggs a week.

B12 Fortified Foods
Reading labels is important if you’re looking to incorporate more B12 into your loved one’s diet. Some foods, like cereals and soy or almond milks, are fortified with vitamin B12. One serving of fortified soymilk contains about 50 percent of the daily requirement for vitamin B12 and typically has about eight grams of protein. Combined soymilk with a cereal that contains 25 percent of the daily requirement for B12 and you can serve nearly a full-day supply of the nutrient at breakfast.

Legumes and Nuts
Nuts and legumes are good sources protein, particularly for seniors with diminished appetite. As these foods are high in protein and calories, but have small serving sizes, eating nuts and legumes can ensure your loved one gets the nutrients he or she needs without eating a lot. Because legumes are also cheaper than many other foods and do not go bad as quickly, they are an affordable option for seniors living on a budget. To make a complete protein, have your loved one’s hourly or 24-hour caregiver in Placer County prepare a lentil and brown rice dish and sprinkle some cheese on top for an extra punch of protein.

Tofu
Some types of tofu contain both protein and vitamin B12. However, since not all brands contain this vitamin, be sure to read the label before you choose a brand. Since tofu is an incredibly versatile food, you can include it in most recipes for an extra boost of protein and B12. Stir fry, bake, or cook with a sauce before adding tofu to salads, soups, or rice dishes for a filling, nutritious, and delicious meal. 

If you require some extra assistance preparing healthy foods for your elderly loved one, consider reaching out to Home Care Assistance. Our professionally trained caregivers provide assistance with a variety of everyday tasks that can help promote healthy habits, including grocery shopping, meal preparation, and safe exercise routines. To learn more about how our senior care services, including Parkinson’s, dementia, and Alzheimer’s care in Placer County, can benefit your loved one, give a Care Manager a call at 916.226.3737 to set up a free in-home consultation.

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