The Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee indicates that older adults may be at risk for low intake of protein and vitamin B12.1 Eggs are a good source of high-quality protein and an excellent source of vitamin B12, as well as nutrients that are underconsumed by the entire population including choline (25% DV in a large egg) and vitamin D (6% DV in a large egg). Further, eggs provide 252 mcg of lutein + zeaxanthin, carotenoids strongly associated with health outcomes throughout the lifespan.2 These are examples of nutrients that are particularly important during aging:
High-quality protein: ”New evidence shows that older adults need more dietary protein than younger adults to support good health…and make up for age-related changes in protein metabolism…”3 Eggs provide 6 grams of protein (12% DV) with all the essential amino acids needed to help maintain healthy muscle.
Choline: Choline, a nutrient critical for cell structural integrity and signaling, is also important for maintenance of health in older adults. New research is exploring how choline throughout life may have lasting effects on cognition,4,5 and one study found moderate egg consumption may have a beneficial association with certain areas of cognitive performance in middle-age to older adults.6
Vitamin B12: This nutrient is important for red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis, and many older adults do not consume enough. Vitamin B12 is naturally present in animal-sourced foods or may be obtained from fortified foods. Large eggs provide 20% DV vitamin B12.
Lutein + Zeaxanthin: The accumulation of lutein + zeaxanthin in the macula of the eye (macular pigment optical density (MPOD)) has been associated with a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration,7 the leading cause of vision loss for Americans aged 65 years and older. Research in older adults has also shown MPOD is related to cognitive function in older people.8,9 A large egg provides 252 mcg of bioavailable lutein + zeaxanthin.
Vitamin D: Eggs are one of the few natural food sources of vitamin D (6% DV per large egg). Together with calcium, vitamin D helps maintain bone health, but most Americans do not consume enough.
Eggs are nutrient-dense, providing many essential nutrients for relatively few calories—the nutritional equivalent of ‘bang for your buck.’ The value of eggs within a healthy diet pattern for older adults was reflected in a recent science advisory published by the AHA which reported, “…given the nutritional benefits and convenience of eggs, consumption of up to 2 eggs per day is acceptable within the context of a heart-healthy diet pattern.”10 For easy ways to incorporate eggs into the diet, see ENC’s Busy Lifestyles toolkit and new ways to Put and Egg on It. Hungry for more? Check out these easy and nutritious meals: