When it comes to nutrition over 50, men and women ARE different. The helpful summary of the recommended daily allowances (RDAs) from the Linus Pauling Institute is a good starting point for understanding your nutritional needs, but it is for all adults. In terms of certain nutrients, women require more than men. There are also some supplements that have been shown to help women once they start approaching menopause.
One of the biggest concerns for women is osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones. Vitamin D and calcium supplements can help, but eating natural foods rich in calcium such as broccoli and canned salmon, and fortified foods such as low fat milk and juices, can also help reduce the risk of frailty and bone fractures.
Heart disease is now the number one killer of both men and women in the US, though up until recently it was thought to be a ‘man’s disease’. A heart-healthy diet such as the Mediterranean diet can protect against heart disease. It can even reduce inflammation in the body, and thus also ease arthritis pain.
In terms of arthritis in all its forms, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), two-thirds of the 52 million people with these conditions are women. Most of those who suffer from arthritis are overweight or obese. Therefore, eating right, exercising, and trying to slim down are all essential if a woman wishes to relieve the pain of arthritis and maintain mobility as she ages.
Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber to help you feel full, and offer a range of nutrients. Try to eat a rainbow a day in order to get a variety of vitamins and minerals from the food you eat. If this is still not enough to meet all your nutritional needs, discuss taking a multivitamin with your doctor. Over 50 formulas for women can be a helpful supplement to, NOT a substitute for, a healthy diet.
In the past 20 years, many women turned to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in order to cope with the symptoms of menopause. HRT was also thought to help their heart health and avoid osteoporosis. However, recent research seems to suggest that HRT is not heart-protective. The use of these hormones has also been shown in recent research to increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes and breast cancer. If you have been or are considering HRT, know the risks so you can make informed decisions.
The herb black cohosh has been studied extensively in relation to relief from the most troublesome symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes. However, it can have some side effects and interact with certain medicines. Study the pros and cons, and discuss with your doctor if black cohosh might be right for you.
Finally, if you are trying to lose weight, steer clear of convenience foods and stick to food in its most natural forms. Avoid sodium (salt), refined sugar, too many carbs, and unhealthy fats. Clean up your eating habits, and see what a difference it can make to the way you look and feel.