A healthy diet is important for women at any age. But as a woman gets older, her dietary needs change and certain vitamins and minerals become more important for good health. While a healthy diet should include a variety of foods, women over 40 should pay special attention to what they eat to be sure they are getting the vitamins and minerals they need.
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Eat Your Broccoli
Calcium is important for strong bones and teeth. Most bone growth occurs throughout the teenage and early adult years for women, making calcium an important part of your diet throughout your lifetime. But after 40, women begin to experience up to 1 percent bone loss per year and need to increase their calcium intake. Eating calcium rich foods such as dairy products, broccoli, green leafy vegetables and fortified orange juice can help meet your daily calcium requirements.
Snack on Almonds
Magnesium has hundreds of functions throughout the body, but its role in bone health is important for women over 40. It is involved in bone formation as well as balancing the concentrations of certain hormones and vitamin D, all of which are important for the prevention of bone loss. Magnesium can be found in almonds and cashews, broccoli, spinach, beans, dairy products and fortified cereals.
Soak Up the Sunshine
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, making it important for bone health. When vitamin D levels are low, you are at a greater risk for developing osteoporosis and other conditions such as high blood pressure and certain cancers. Your body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the sun. You can also get vitamin D by eating eggs, fish and fortified milk and cereal.
Boost Your Iron
Daily iron requirements are highest for women before age 50. Iron is important for many reasons, including the production of proteins and delivering oxygen to cells. Women experiencing heavy menstrual losses are at a high risk of iron deficiency. Iron requirements can be met by eating plenty of meat, poultry, seafood, beans and green leafy vegetables every day.
Go For Fish
The risk for heart disease increases for women as they age. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to reduce this risk. Oily fish such as salmon, trout and mackerel have more omega-3 fatty acids than lean fish, such as cod and catfish, but the important fatty acids are still present. If eating fish is not an option, you can get omega-3 fatty acids from walnuts, ground flaxseed and flaxseed oil. However, you may want to speak with your physician about taking a fish oil supplement as you may not get enough omega-3 fatty acids from diet alone.