Health experts have conflicting opinions when it comes to choosing nutritional drinks for seniors. People who are older than 65 have various chronic conditions which can limit the intake of certain vitamins and minerals. That’s why doctors often advise their patients to eat vitamin-rich foods like fruits or take vitamin supplements for optimal health and immune response. With nutritional drinks, that may not be the case.
Not all nutritional drinks are made for all ages. Some are too rich in fats, some have high carb value, while some are enriched with sugars which can be fatal for seniors who have difficulties controlling their sugars. Remember, nutritional drinks shouldn’t replace your meal, but if you see that you or your loved senior person is struggling with eating, occasional nutritional drink intake will help you keep yourself full and balanced.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at special nutritional drinks for seniors. As mentioned above, those nutrients shouldn’t contain ingredients that could potentially have adverse health effects on the elderly. Instead, they should help them get through the day when they’re struggling with eating solid foods.
- Best Overall: Ensure Plus Nutrition Shake – It’s ideal for people who are looking for a higher nutritional value from meals. It’s also quite delicious and full of vitamins.
- Runner Up: Protein2o – If you’re into the flavors of nature, Protein20 is the runner-up review that we enjoyed trying out.
- Best Budget: Premier Protein Shake with Oats – You don’t have to compromise your budget to enjoy various exotic flavors while receiving the nutrients you need to get through the day.
Maintaining nutrition as an elderly person can be difficult, especially when there is a need to take three large meals. The appetite of older people works in a much different way compared to younger adults. People usually consume 3 to 5 meals a day, but for seniors, it’s different.
They enjoy taking 5 or more small meals to meet the nutritional demands of their body. However, due to various deficiencies, that can be hardly achieved. Add different auto-immune and chronic states to the story and their appetites can become insatiable.
But, finding the right nutritional meal, powder or shake can be incredibly hard for older people. They are trying to limit the calorie intake to maintain their physique, while also limiting carbs and food rich in fats. That can be bad if the person suffers from diabetes, or some other chronic condition that can easily result in weight loss.
Keep in mind that taking nutritional drinks can also be beneficial to the elderly in various ways. Drinking protein shakes, or a different nutritional drink can be more convenient than preparing a complex meal, multiple times a day. While it’s not advised to swap nutritional meals for shakes, it’s still a good substitute occasionally, or rather an addition to a vibrant lunch.
That’s why, we’re going to show you a guide on how to shop for the right nutritional drink for seniors and replenish the loss of vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients that your body needs for feeling more rested, energized, and simply put – functional.
Things To Consider When Shopping For Best Nutritional Drinks For Seniors
As we said, buying nutritional drinks and shakes for older people is more difficult than you may think. There are various types of nutritional drinks for seniors, and this buying guide will help you figure out the right one for you.
Understand Your Requirements
Nutritional drinks come in different shapes and forms, but we’ll discuss more below. Right now, you should take a look at your health report and grab a pen and paper to understand what your requirements are.
People who drink supplements in the form of protein shakes or powders usually want to replenish something that they’re missing. Athletes, for example, want to turn fat into muscle and they consume low-fat drinks. They also grab protein-rich foods and shakes that are ideal food for muscles.
People who suffer from diabetes, or some other condition that could affect their blood glucose should stay away from nutritional drinks that are rich in sugars. Seniors who suffer from high cholesterol shouldn’t consume drinks that are rich in fats. Lastly, people who are intolerant to gluten, lactose, or some other ingredient should go for gluten-free and vegan products.
In the end, it all comes down to what you’re tolerant of and what your body needs. Also, if you suffer from vitamin deficiency, you should consider drinks that also include vitamins and minerals from the foods you can’t consume (if you have high blood sugar and cholesterol problems and avoid red meat, taking Zinc and B12-rich supplements will assist you in replenishing the missing ingredients.)
Check Out Different Forms
There are various types of forms when it comes to nutritional drinks. However, since we’re talking about drinks explicitly, we’ll avoid talking about nutritional capsules, tablets, pills, gummies, and other hard forms of nutrients available on the market. Still, we highlighted them here so that you’ll know that there’s also that option if you want a more convenient way to get nutrients.
Besides that we have:
- Liquid drinks like shakes and smoothies.
- Powders that are dissolved in water, milk, or some other liquid and then put in a shaker or blender to mix up.
Liquid drinks are most comfortable. However, storing them and keeping supplies for more than a month can be a more tricky thing to do. Additionally, they may get spoiled and go to waste if you bought supplies to last you several months. Still, people who have enough space and money gladly buy them as they’re mixed properly and delicious.
There are also powdered nutritional drinks. You grab a scoop or two, mix them with water, and other ingredients that you want, and get a shake. For a lot of people, this is a great option because the shelf life is longer, it’s usually cheaper and people can add other ingredients to their liking.
Still, the bad side is that many people are not educated about what to mix, and may not find using blenders and shakers too convenient. There could even be a problem with not knowing how much power they should put in the glass.
Like all supplements and nutritional drinks, they’re all rich in nutrients. Sometimes, those nutrients are just carbs, fat, or protein in the form of whey protein. However, other ingredients can improve your metabolism, digestion, immune response, and much more.
Firstly, there are vitamins. Vitamins ensure that your organism works properly and that there are no immunity drops and problems with digestion. There are vitamin A, B complex, C, D, E, K complex, and others.
For immunity, the most preferred vitamins are vitamin C and D (D3.) But, you can also see other vitamins like vitamin A and E, which are rich in oxidants that will help you battle an infection. Vitamin B is helpful with anemia, iron deficiency, metabolism, and many other conditions.
Lastly, there are minerals and other ingredients like Potassium, Calcium, Zinc, Magnesium, and others. They all contribute to the healthy and optimized functioning of our body.
Some seniors have problems with maintaining blood sugar. It can be too low, too high. While some people are on the permitted glucose levels threshold, others have problems with diabetes. It’s hard to give up sweets, and sugar-rich foods, but if sugary food hurts you, it’s best to avoid it.
There are a lot of sugar-free options in the market. Some nutritional drinks also have a limited amount of sugar to be available to people who are diabetics.
For people who are lactose intolerant, have allergic to fish or eggs, or can’t take animal products, there are also vegan-friendly options. Most manufacturer labels read that the product is vegetarian in the sense that there’s no animal gelatin. Additionally, if the product says that there is no dairy or eggs, the product is safe as a vegan.
Does It Have Gluten?
According to a report, about 20,000 million people have gluten intolerance, with numbers being much higher potential. Some anecdotal evidence suggests that gluten intolerance is less prominent with age, but there are still seniors that are sensitive to it.
With that being said, if you have celiac or non-celiac sensitivity to gluten, it’s best to check for the gluten-free products. A lot of nutritional drinks don’t contain gluten, as they’re drinks after all. But, if you want to be on a safe note, you should always read the label to ensure that the products you’re drinking are gluten- and GMO-free.
One of the best parts of nutritional drinks is that they come in different flavors. Flavors vary from manufacturer to manufacturer but the most powerful trio consists of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Some manufacturers include other flavors like stracciatella, almonds, coconuts, peanut butter, and others, but that also varies.
For people who have problems with glucose levels, as well as those who prefer building the flavor on their own, there are also flavorless options that are more popular among people.
Light Drinks Vs. Heavy Drinks
As we mentioned before, different nutritional drinks cater to different target audiences. That means that there are lighter drinks that are lighter in calories and certain ingredients and heavier drinks, also known as max drinks.
- Lower calorie count
- Less protein and fats
- Less carb value
- Little sugar or sugar-free
- Higher calorie count
- More protein value
- More carbs
- Richer in sugars.
Understand The Risks
Keep in mind that there are certain risks with taking these supplements, but they don’t apply the same for everyone. While there’s no requirement for doctor permission to take nutritional drinks, bear in mind that it’s welcome to ask your doctor about them and also get recommendations for your state.
Risks may include:
- Bad for patients with high blood pressure
- It was risky for people with diabetes type 2.
- It may cause seniors to replace a fully nutritional meal with nutritional drinks
- It can cause issues if you’re sensitive to lactose or have irritable bowel syndrome.
Best Nutritional Drinks for Seniors
We highlighted everything that you need to know about the nutritional drinks we’ll list below. Remember to consult your doctor first if you’re unsure whether you should take these drinks. If they say they’re good and gives you a recommendation, check if it’s listed here!
Best Overall: Ensure Plus Nutrition Shake
- Form: Liquid Drink
- Amount: 8 Oz (per bottle)
- Flavor: Dark Chocolate, Vanilla, Butter Pecan, Strawberry, Chocolate Fiber
- Calories: 350 cal
If you’re looking for a balanced drink rich in various nutrients and vitamins, then you must know that finding the moderately rated nutritional drink for seniors is difficult. Another problem is the lack of balanced tastes, which are replaced with strong flavors rich in sugar and crabs. With Ensure nutritional drinks, you don’t have to worry about that.
Ensure is enriched in various nutrients and it comes with various variations of its nutritional shake. Ensure Plus Nutrition Shake will cater to both younger and older people, and it’s ideal for seniors because while providing a nutritional value it is also a great base for stronger bones, muscles, and metabolism.
It’s available in various flavors starting from chocolate fiber and dark chocolate to butter pecan and strawberry. Besides that, there are exactly 27 vitamins and minerals to work as food for your bones, muscles, and organs. These vitamins include vitamin A and D, as well as various oxidants and minerals like zinc and magnesium.
It is 75% stronger in protein compared to other nutritional drinks and provides 10% of the daily value of fibers recommended by experts. The calorie count of 350 calories is enough to replace a smaller meal, if you’re in a hurry and can’t cook.
Editor’s Notes: While there are enough calories to swap a moderate breakfast or lunch, it’s still a good idea to refrain from replacing whole foods with nutritional drinks. Beware of milk and soy allergens, as this product is not vegan.
Runner Up: Protein2o
This runner-up option is ideal for people who want to enjoy tropical and exotic fruit taste in whey protein-infused water. This option is also great for people who are restricted to blood sugar or suffer from diabetes. There are only 70 calories in this drink, so it’s also good as a lighter option of a nutritional drink.
While this drink can be used by both juniors and seniors, seniors will enjoy the refreshing, yet empowering formula rich in exotic flavors and various vitamins and antioxidants. The whole bunch comes with 12 bottles of 16 Oz each so you can use one bottle for a longer time per day, and refresh yourself whenever you need it.
Since it’s all made out of fruits, you’re not encouraged to replace your meals with it, especially because of the 70 calorie count, but you can use it as a dessert or with a snack that will replenish your energy and power you up through daily activities and even when you’re outside on the go.
You don’t have to worry about allergens like eggs and gluten, as well as artificial sweeteners, sugars, artificial colors, and other chem that may make this product taste a little less natural than it usually does.
Editor’s notes: The product label is a little confusing. It says that this product is lactose-free, but the label also notes that there’s dairy as an allergen. That said, we’re not sure whether this is fully a vegan product or not, so be cautious if you want to avoid animal products.
Best Budget: Premier Protein Shake with Oats
- Form: Liquid Drink
- Amount: 11.5 Oz (per bottle)
- Flavor: Apple Cinnamon, Blueberries and Cream, Chocolate hazelnut, Oats & maple
- Calories: 150 cal
If you’re restricted on budget, but want to enjoy a sweet and energy-replenishing drink, you have to try Premier Protein Shakeout. It consists of 12 bottles of 11.5 Oz, each providing 150 calories to start the day. As the manufacturer noted, it’s the best used during breakfast, but don’t use it to replace the breakfast in its entirety.
The protein beverage consists of 20g proteins rich in amino acids that will improve your metabolic rate and digestion. You can also use it as a snack between breakfast and lunch, as long as you don’t swap any key meals for this beverage. There are also whole grain oats which are great for your blood vessels, healthy immune response, and muscles. There’s a total of 1 gram of sugar, which is acceptable even for people who are trying to control their sugar intake.
Besides the key ingredients and various flavors to make your day, Premium drinks pack various vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. Some of them include Vitamin C and E, as well as Zinc that will improve your immune system and metabolism. There is also plenty of calcium and Vitamin D3 that helps your bones remain powerful.
Editor’s Notes: Keep in mind that the product consists of milk, which means it’s not suitable for vegans and people who are lactose intolerant and want to avoid milk for health reasons. Keep in mind that only the fruit-based flavors are more affordable than chocolate.
Best For Weak Immune System: Ensure Max Protein Nutrition Shake
- Form: Liquid Drink
- Amount: 11 Oz (per bottle)
- Flavor: Café Mocha, Chocolate with caffeine, Milk chocolate, Mixed Berry, Vanilla
- Calories: 150 cal
Besides building your muscles and protecting your bones, nutritional drinks also help those with compromised immune response recover it and control it, especially during the flu season. Ensure Max is the best if you want to keep your body balanced and healthy, thanks to the powerful antioxidants from vitamin E, as well as vitamin C and addition from vitamin A and D3.
Each drink contains 30 grams of pure protein which will help your muscles remain strong, even after moderate or mild workout activity which is good to prevent your body from atrophying.
The entire drink contains 150 calories and a total of 25 vitamins. While it won’t replace your meal in its entirety, it’s a good snack that you can get between breakfast and lunch or between breakfast and dinner. There are so many flavors to choose from and so many vitamins and minerals that will keep you energized and powerful.
Editor’s notes: While there’s not too much sugar, it’s worth noting that it’s recommended to consult your doctor before you take it. It’s also not recommended to vegans and those who are allergic to lactose products.
Best for Seniors With Diabetes: Glucerna Hunger Smart
- Form: Liquid Drink
- Amount: 10 Oz (per bottle)
- Flavor: Creamy strawberry, rich chocolate, and vanilla
- Calories: 180 cal
Finding an ideal snack that won’t make your blood glucose level go crazy can be incredibly difficult. However, there are diabetes-friendly nutritional drinks that will satisfy your temporary hunger and help you get back on track.
Glucerna Hunger Smart consists of 180 calories, which is a great snack or an addition to an already nutritional meal. It’s enriched with various flavors of strawberry, chocolate, or vanilla, and don’t worry, there are no artificial flavors, it’s all made to be comfortable with your condition and not make sugar spikes.
It’s most prominent in vitamins and minerals, which help your organs feed on important nutrients and perform their function better. Vitamins include C and E which are two important antioxidant vitamins, as well as vitamins A and D which are important for a strong immune response and overall improvement of bones.
On top of everything, the taste is great and will leave you craving for more. For one package, you get 24 bottles which will be more than enough to keep you up for a month if you get these snacks only when you feel a need for strong nutrients. It’s also important that this option contains slow-release carbohydrates so they won’t cause blood sugar spikes in people who suffer from diabetes type 2.
Editor’s notes: It’s not a vegan product, as there could be milk and soy. If you are allergic to some of these two, you should avoid this option and talk to your doctor about some better options.
Best Powdered Nutritional Drink: Ensure Nutrition Powder
- Form: Powder
- Amount: 14 Oz (per box)
- Flavor: Vanilla
- Calories: 250 cal
Although choosing between powdered and liquid nutritional drinks comes down to your personal preference, we wanted to review one powdered nutritional drink for seniors for those who find using these more convenient. Again, it’s an Ensure powder, which is super-convenient and also enjoyable for seniors.
The ultimate mantra of Ensure is to increase the immune response through the use of pure protein, as well as various vitamins which are available in great numbers here. The most prominent ones are vitamin A and D, as well as Vitamin C and E. You can also find zinc, which is super-important to our immunity and metabolism.
With 9 grams of high-quality protein and 250 calories per serving, you’re guaranteed to have a blast. It’s only available with vanilla flavor, but that only makes mixing various nutrients in the shaker more convenient, and more neutral, as vanilla has a pretty neutral taste when mixed with fruit, chocolate, and other ingredients.
The best part is that this product is suitable for people who are gluten- and lactose-intolerant, but still, don’t overdo with the recommended values.
Editor’s Notes: It’s only available with vanilla flavor, which may be a problem for some people.
Best Vegan Nutritional Drink: OWYN – 100% Vegan Protein Shakes
- Form: Liquid Drink
- Amount: 12 Oz (per bottle)
- Flavor: Chocolate, Vanilla, Cookies N Cream
- Calories: 180 cal
Finding the right vegan-friendly nutritional liquid drink comes off as a challenge, as it’s hard to make such drinks without dairy products like milk. Still, if you’re looking to find the company that gives you a choice between bottled and carton options, you should check OWYN out.
They have various flavors, and can also be found in the powdered form, while still maintaining the 100% vegan label, free of animal vitamins, minerals, dairy, eggs, or gelatin. The drink is still quite delicious and will keep you full if you use it in combination with a meal, or a daytime snack between two meals.
The 20 grams of protein it contains are 100% vegan, together with high vegan omega-3 acids, and a blend of various green veggies that improve your overall immune response and metabolism. There is no gluten addition, while the fiber is drawn out from greens like kale, spinach, broccoli, and others.
In addition to lack of lactose and gluten, we can confirm that Owyn’s vegan drink is 100% hypoallergenic, there are no nuts, eggs, soy, and other allergens. It’s also a non-GMO project verified and free of artificial ingredients.
It also has a long shelf life of 18 months which is great for those who stack their drinks. No artificial sugars or stevia either, so it’s good for people with high blood sugar.
Editor’s notes: It may feel upsetting on the stomach if you drink it on an empty stomach.