Your Nutrition Needs in Your 30s, 40s, and 50s

Top needs for the 50s
Youre finally in control of your life. Now if only you could get your hormones to behave!

Must haves: B vitamins, antioxidants, calcium, vitamin D. No matter how great you look and feel, your body is undergoing big-time changes, thanks mostly to menopause. As estrogen decreases, youre at an increased risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and other age-related health issues. Protect your heart with important micronutrients like vitamins B6 and B12 (aim for 1.5 milligrams of B6 and 2.4 micrograms of B12 per day). They help your body ditch a chemical called homocysteine that contributes to hardening of the arteries.Prevent age-related cataracts and macular degeneration with antioxidant-rich foods.

Want to ease menopausal symptoms? Phytoestrogens, or plant-based estrogens, may help ease those hot flashes. They also may lower your risk of breast cancer.That bone-strengthening mineral is more important than ever now, so increase calcium to 1,500 mg daily if youre postmenopausal and not on estrogen therapy; keep it at 1,200 mg per day if youre on estrogen. And because 70 percent of women 51 to 70 dont get enough vitamin D (vital for calcium absorption), make sure you get at least 400 IU per day; talk to your doctor about taking a supplement.

Best foods to eat now: 50s

  • Boost your B6 with bananas, potatoes, and pomegranates. And get B12 from eggs, fish, and chicken. Some cereals are fortified, too.

  • Get a burst of breast cancer-fighting antioxidants from dark green, dark yellow, or orange fruits and veggies, like broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

  • Protect your eyes with the lutein and zeaxanthin in spinach.

  • Ease menopause symptoms with cashews, corn, apples, and soy—all great sources of phytoestrogens.

  • Some good calcium picks: low-fat cheese, almonds, and broccoli. Eat enough folic acid–rich foods like oranges, asparagus, and leafy green veggies. Bone up with low-fat dairy picks—milk, cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese will all give you a calcium boost.

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