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A guide to women’s health after 40

Bodies change rapidly after hitting 40, and nutritional changes are one to cope better with incoming old age

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women’s health after 40

The world is celebrating women’s day and mothers day but a day is never enough, while recognising their selflessness in putting family first, it is also critical to shine the spotlight on every women’s health and well-being.

Rarely will they stop and take a look at themselves, let alone, focus on their changing nutritional needs as they age. However, prioritising our women’s health is vital, especially after the age of 40 and is the key to keeping them healthy and spirited. 

During your 40s and 50s 

Befriend B12: Vitamin B12, which supports the health of both your red blood cells and nervous system, is vital to keeping you energized. However, throughout the years, your body’s ability to absorb and use the B12 you eat may wane. That’s because your gut gradually produces less Intrinsic Factor, a protein necessary for the intestines to effectively absorb B12. “B12 deficiency is very common amongst Indian population due to poor dietary intake,” Dr. Ganesh Kadhe, Associate Director Medical and Scientific Affairs at Abbott Nutrition told us.

Consume more calcium: While calcium can help strengthen your bones in every stage of life, after 50, your daily recommended intake increases from 1,000 to 1,200 mg per day. It’s important to talk to your doctor to evaluate your bone density, family history and calcium intake to prevent osteoporosis or to help slow the loss of bone density as you age. To increase your calcium intake, focus on incorporating whole foods including dairy, sardines, soy, leafy vegetables and salmon into your diet.

Eat more fiber: As far as women’s health is concern, the risk of coronary heart disease increases after age 55, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. That’s where fiber comes in, helping to lower cholesterol levels and improve heart health. To increase your levels of soluble, cholesterol-lowering fiber, reach for oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, fruits and vegetables. Increase intake gradually to prevent stomach upset.

During your 60s and beyond

Preserve muscle with protein: To walk your children down the aisle or run around the backyard with your grandchildren, it’s important to maintain muscle mass. We naturally start losing muscle mass at 40 years old – roughly 8 percent per decade and this number can nearly double to 15 percent at age 70. But to do so, you should pair regular physical activity and strength-building exercise with additional protein.

According to research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, as you age, the body becomes less efficient at processing protein and incorporating it into your muscles. Incorporate protein-rich foods into every meal and snack. Fish, lean meats, eggs, beans and protein shakes are all great options. Get more of the sunshine vitamin: While you can get vitamin D in limited quantities from foods such as fortified milk, salmon and mushrooms, the vast majority of people’s intake comes through sun exposure. Unfortunately, many people don’t get enough of the important vitamin—and deficiency is increasingly common in old age.

In one study of 824 elderly people, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 47 percent of women were deficient in vitamin D throughout the winter, when vitamin D levels are generally at their lowest. Dr Ganesh Kadhe points out that during old age, apart from spending less time outside, people can experience reduced skin thickness, impaired intestinal absorption, poor food intake of vitamin D and reduced liver and kidney function, further increasing the risk of deficiency.

For that reason, after age 70, the recommended daily intake of vitamin D increases from 600 to 800 IU per day. Talk to your primary care physician to have your levels checked.

READ ALSO: 50 and fabulous: Tips to be fitter after hitting half-a century

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