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Women's health through the ages

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Lucy Jones details the importance of tailoring your nutrition to your age.

They say growing old is mandatory. Growing up is optional, but as we get older, our bodies have different nutritional requirements and this is particularly important for women.

 

Lucy Jones is a dietitian at Whittington Hospital in North London and is also a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association.

 

Aged 30-50

Women in their 30s and 40s often juggle stressful jobs, financial pressures and family life. As such, good nutrition isn’t always a priority, but it could help you face these everyday pressures with ease.

 

"Poor lifestyle behaviours, such as excess alcohol or smoking, can alter your nutrient requirements, increasing your need for vitamins," says Lucy Jones "Try to eat more fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and look at changing your lifestyle."

 

Lifestyle choices can also affect fertility, so if you are looking to conceive, Lucy suggests combining the above foods with wholegrains and quality cuts of meat and fish. "This could help ensure an adequate intake of folic acid, vitamin C, B12, iron and zinc – all important for fertility," she says.

 

You may also wish to consider a conception multivitamin. Healthspan’s PregnaPure Conception for Women is one of three expertly formulated products which provide the nutritional support your new family needs for the purest start in life.

 

Aged 50-60

Most women go through the menopause between the ages of 45 and 55. The menopause can coincide with the start of a rapid decline in bone mass, which could increase the risk of osteoporosis. "Calcium-enriched soy products, or consuming lots of dairy, could help slow the rate of bone loss, as can consuming adequate vitamin D, doing weight bearing exercise and being a healthy body weight," Lucy says.

 

The loss of oestrogen at menopause could also increase the risk of heart disease. "There are many elements to this such as cholesterol control, blood pressure, body weight and regular exercise," says Lucy.

 

Limit salt, saturated fat and avoid excess calories. Diets high in magnesium (spinach, nuts, and wholegrains), potassium (bananas, oranges, potatoes) and calcium (dairy or alternatives, sardines with bones or dark green vegetables) could help regulate blood pressure. If you think your diet might be lacking in these kinds of foods, a magnesium supplement will help. 

 

To keep cholesterol levels under control, aim for 50g soy protein, 30g (one handful) of nuts and 2g plant sterols daily as well as increasing intake of soluble fibre through oats, wholegrains and beans or pulses.

 

The Menopause can bring with it symptoms that may disrupt a woman’s quality of life, but natural remedies are widely available. Black Cohosh is a herbal medicine traditionally used to help relieve female hormone imbalances, such as menopausal hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, irritability and restlessness.

 

A recent survey by our beauty arm, Nurture skincare, shows that 1 in 5 respondents aged 45-50 experience skin problems due to the menopause. Nurture Skincare’s Replenish range is specifically designed for dealing with this problem. Their Replenish Collagen Boosting Serum contains phytoestrogens from soy bean extract, to nourish skin and provide a moisture boost.  

 

Aged 70-80

As we get older, our energy needs decrease due to loss of muscle mass and probably being less physically active. However, your need for vitamins and minerals can increase. This is due to changes in your gut making you less able to absorb nutrients.

 

"B vitamins, particularly B12 and folate, found in meat, fish, wholegrains and vegetables, are important for your heart, mood and cognitive decline," says Lucy. "Essential fatty acids from oily fish are also vital for your eyes, heart and brain."

 

To maintain good bone health, consider taking 10mcg of vitamin D daily. Eating three portions of calcium-rich foods could also help.

 

"Try to eat a variety of foods throughout the week to maximise nutrient intake," advises Lucy. "Make the most of frozen or tinned food if accessibility to fresh foods is a problem, and aim to consume three different meals a day with plenty of fruits and vegetables."

 

Our nutritional needs are often in need of an update. By knowing how you can assist your body as it ages, your health at seventy-five can be just as spectacular as your health at twenty-five.   

 


A dietitian at Whittington Hospital in North London. She is also a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association and recently appeared on Channel 4’s ‘The Food Hospital’. More from this expert.

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Nutrition Expert sources the latest information and advice from a range of qualified doctors, nutritionists and coaches. We always endeavour to have the most up to date information possible and publish new content weekly. However with the constant research in this field sometimes some of our older articles can become out of date. If you see anything that you believe needs to be updated please let us know via our Contact Us page