Purpose: Regular, non-therapeutic diets were examined in long-term care (LTC) residents to determine whether these residents consumed adequate nutrients according to current recommendations.
Methods: Elderly (88 +/- 8 years) residents (31 female, 17 male) in five Saskatoon LTC centres participated. All were receiving regular diets. Dietary intakes were collected for three days at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, by using simultaneous weighed and observation methods. Snacks provided and eaten were also recorded.
Results: Observed intakes provided more complete data on nutrient intake than did weighed intakes. Inadequacy was most prevalent (in 70% or more of participants) for folate (according to prefortification intake levels), magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, and vitamin B6; inadequacy prevalence was below 50% for protein, vitamin C, and thiamine. Mean intakes of calcium, vitamin D, and dietary fibre were well below their respective Adequate Intake (AI) values. Energy consumed at meals and with snacks was 16% less than that offered at meals alone; other nutrients ingested ranged from 0% to 32% below energy offered. To model nutrient planning, target usual intake distributions were calculated where possible.
Conclusions: These data suggest that nutrient-dense foods alone may not allow elderly LTC residents to meet intake requirements for many nutrients. Assessment of dietary adequacy in institutionalized elderly people allows for the development of realistic nutrition goals.