The specific composition of women’s bodies means that it’s important they get enough of certain vitamins and minerals, in order to reduce health risks and ensure that their bodies stay strong and vigorous even as they grow older.
While the following nutrients are important to make a priority in your diet at any age, they’re especially important for post-menopausal women, or women currently going through menopause.
These nutrients reduce risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and stroke.
1. Folic Acid
Women who have planned a pregnancy know that folic acid is an important prenatal supplement because it helps promote cell growth. For the same reason, folic acid is important for women as they age. This nutrient helps to slow cellular degeneration, which likely plays a role in its ability to help prevent dementia, cognitive decline, heart disease, and stroke.
2. Vitamin B12
As you age, your body begins to have trouble processing and using the vitamin B12 that you get from your diet, so it’s vital to get even more of it as you grow older. Vitamin B12 plays a significant part in keeping your metabolism strong, ensuring healthy cell division, and creating new proteins. Getting enough vitamin B12 can also help prevent anemia.
3. Vitamin D
Women are at heightened risk for weakened bones and osteoporosis as they age, due to lowered levels of estrogen. Taking a vitamin D supplement or having about four servings of low-fat dairy per day can help cut the risk of breaking bones – one study, for example, showed that women who took a high-dosage vitamin D supplement cut their risk of hip fractures by just under a third.
In addition to low intake of vitamin D, calcium deficiency is one of the major factors in the development of brittle bones and osteoporosis. For women over the age of 50, it’s important to increase your intake of calcium, whether through supplements or adding more of it into your diet. Younger women should also focus on getting enough calcium, as having strong bones while you’re young puts you at an advantage in your more mature years.
While women are often told to take iron supplements during their younger years due to increased risk of anemia (which is caused by menstruation), women who have gone through menopause should actually cut back on their iron supplements. This is because women’s iron requirements actually decrease after menopause, and overdosing on iron through supplementation can lead to organ damage. Talk to your doctor before starting an iron supplement.
Heart disease is actually the number one killer of women, although it’s not one we often hear about. Omega-3 fatty acids have been demonstrated to lower overall risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure, reducing plaque buildup in the arteries, and improving lipid profiles by raising good cholesterol. Add some additional fatty fish to your diet, or consider taking a fish oil or flax oil supplement.
How do you get enough of these important nutrients? Share your tips with us in the comments section.