Author(s): Villarino Rodrguez A
The population of the elderly people is increasing in our society, and it is very frequently affected by undernutrition problems. It is mainly due to an inadequate intake of micronutrients, as well as to a higher incidence of chronic diseases, which negatively affect the nutritional status. The aim of this study is to assess the levels, in terms of minerals (Ca, Fe, I, Zn, Mg, Na and K), of a population of 124 elderly persons (60 males and 64 females), aged between 65 and 98 years, who are institutionalized in five institutions for elderly people in the province of León (Spain). The dietetics study was carried out recording the food intake throughout 7 days by the precise weighting method. Blood concentration in Mg, Fe, Ca and ferritin was determined for the biochemical study. Calcium intake was 813 +/- 182 mg in males and 792 +/- 173 mg in females, which are lower values than those of reference that are being discussed at present. Regarding the values of serum calcium, no significant differences were found between males and females (9.2 +/- 0.4 mg/dL vs 9.1 +/- 0.6 mg/dl, respectively), but all these individuals are situated at the lower limit of range of normality. Iron intake was high, and there were 98% of males and 89% of females whose iron intakes were higher than the recommendations. Iron serum concentration was 89.6 +/- 37.9 micrograms/dl vs 79.3 +/- 24.2 micrograms/dl, and blood ferritin concentration was 107 +/- 64 ng/ml vs 64 +/- 48 ng/ml, in males and females respectively. Despite the fact that there is a very high percentage of elderly people whose iodine intake is lower than the 80% of the recommended intake (96% in males and 75% in females), no old person participating in this study was diagnosed of hypothyroidism. In relation to zinc intake, no significant differences are found between sexes, recording in both cases very low mean intake values compared to the dietetic recommendation (61 +/- 10% I/RD).