Forty is the new thirty. Or so the saying goes.
Although that might not be strictly true, it’s true that these days we’re all living longer, healthier lives. One of the reasons behind this is that many of us have now become a lot more health conscious by
- following healthier diets,
- getting enough exercise, and
- cutting down on things like alcohol and smoking.
Though despite our efforts, our bodies at age forty simply don’t work the same as they did at twenty. Muscle mass starts to deteriorate, we’re much more likely to put on weight, diseases like cancer and heart disease may catch up in the coming years, and for women, going through menopause may soon become a reality if it hasn’t already.
For these reasons and many others, staying on top of your health during this time of your life is important. So if you’ve ever thought of boosting your diet to maintain that healthy status, be sure to keep these nutrients in mind.
Calcium is a dietary must-have and belongs on everyone’s nutrition list. Apart from keeping bones strong and healthy, it also protects us from diseases like osteoporosis. Osteoporosis occurs when the bones in our body become so brittle that they may break or fracture from the slightest fall. But osteoporosis is preventable. Over a 20 to 30 year period, women (moreso than men) gradually lose bone density. And once it’s gone, you can’t get it back. By making calcium a part of your diet, you can help stop or reduce that bone density loss from happening.
Consider that one in three women over the age of 50 will experience an osteoporotic fracture during the course of their lives1. The earlier you’re able to start protecting your bones, the better.
2- Vitamin B12
B12 is a B-vitamin that usually flies under the radar. Vitamin B12, like the other B vitamins, is important for breaking down proteins. It helps in the formation of red blood cells and also in the maintenance of the central nervous system. Since our bodies don’t make B12, we have to get it from animal-based products like eggs, fish, meat, and poultry. However, as we age, our bodies find it difficult to absorb this vitamin so doctors usually recommend that older individuals take supplements instead.
If you’re not sure about your B12 status, you can ask your doctor to get a blood test to see how you’re doing.
Omega-3 fatty acids are primarily found in seafood like salmon, halibut, tuna and sardines. But Omega-3s are also found in fortified foods like eggs, soy milk, fiber and yogurt. Be sure to check the ingredient list of foods you’re buying to see if it’s fortified.
Omega-3’s are a type of fat but they’re the one type of fat you don’t want to cut back on. A large part of the much-celebrated Mediterranean diet is centered around Omega-3’s. They are believed to help lower your risk of heart disease. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of fish a week. If you’re not able to get this, then supplements are always a good alternative.
Probiotics aren’t really nutrients in the traditional sense. They are live bacteria that keep your digestive system running smoothly and efficiently. This is particularly important as we get older and the efficiency of your digestive system wanes.
Some studies also suggest that probiotics can help with things like
- skin conditions,
- urinary and vaginal health,
- preventing allergies,
- colds, and
- oral health2.
5- Vitamin D
The two primary players of bone health are calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is relatively easy to get in your diet but vitamin D (also called the sunshine vitamin) is obtained if you’re constantly exposed to sunlight for long periods of time. For those of us who don’t live in sunnier climes, this can be a little tricky. If you aren’t getting enough, supplements are a must.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and decrease the chances of having a fracture.
2- WebMD. What Are Probiotics? By Mary Jo DiLonardo. http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/what-are-probiotics#1