What Are Oral Nutrition Supplements?
Oral nutrition supplements (ONS) are like extra boosts of nutrients, including protein and energy, for people who might not be getting enough nutrition from their regular meals. This could happen because of a reduced appetite, not eating enough, increased nutritional needs, or difficulty absorbing nutrients due to illness. ONS is usually taken alongside your normal diet, but in some cases, certain ONS can provide all the nutrition you need for the entire day. You can find ONS in different forms, like ready-to-drink liquids (like milk or juice), powders that you can add to your meals or dessert-style puddings.
What Benefits Will I Get From Using ONS?
- Oral nutrition supplements (ONS) not only boost overall energy and protein intake but also increase the consumption of essential micronutrients. Importantly, when used appropriately, they don't interfere with the intake of regular food.
- Evidence from systematic reviews illustrates that oral nutrition supplements are an effective and cost-efficient way to manage malnutrition, especially among those with a low BMI.
- ONS contribute to increased energy and protein intake, potentially aiding in weight improvement and providing functional benefits such as enhanced hand grip strength.
- The clinical benefits of ONS encompass a reduction in complications (e.g., pressure ulcers, poor wound healing, and infections), lower mortality rates (particularly in acutely ill older individuals), decreased hospital admissions, and fewer instances of readmission.
- Positive clinical outcomes associated with ONS are often observed when providing a daily intake of 1250-3750 kJ (equivalent to 1-3 servings per day).
How Many Types of Oral Nutritional Supplements?
Oral nutrition supplements (ONS) typically consist of a combination of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate, and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and trace elements). Ready-made nutritional supplements are concentrated in energy, generally containing between 1 and 2.4 kcal/ml, along with a well-balanced mix of micronutrients. A diverse range of supplement styles (milk, juice, yogurt, savoury), formats (liquid, powder, pudding, pre-thickened), types (high protein, fibre-containing, low volume), energy densities, and flavours are available to cater to various needs. Standard supplements usually provide approximately 1000-1250 kJ, 10-12g of protein, and a comprehensive array of vitamins and minerals per serving.
Different oral nutrition supplements serve specific groups:
- Standard Supplements (1.5-2.4kcal/ml): These are often recommended for frail, elderly individuals, or those diagnosed with conditions like dementia, COPD, or cancer.
- High Protein Supplements: Suitable for individuals with wounds, post-operative patients, specific cancer cases, and the elderly.
- Fibre-Containing Supplements: Useful for individuals dealing with constipation (not suitable for those requiring a fibre-free diet).
- Pre-Thickened Supplements and Puddings: Designed for individuals with neurological conditions affecting their ability to swallow.
- Small Volume, High Energy Supplements: These may enhance compliance and are often better tolerated by patients who cannot consume larger volumes.
How Do I Start Oral Nutrition Supplements?
When initiating oral nutrition supplements, follow these steps:
- Identify Preferred Flavours:
- Determine the individual's taste preferences, such as whether they prefer milk or juice, and whether they lean towards sweet or savoury options.
- Conduct Taste Testing:
- Test preferences and assess compliance through taste testing to ensure the chosen supplements align with the individual's palate.
- Consult with a Professional:
- Refer to a dietitian or doctor for a comprehensive assessment of nutritional requirements. The dietitian can then prescribe the preferred product or recommend a range of products and flavours tailored to the individual's needs and preferences.
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