This article is written by our Resident Nutritionist Sarah Moore. Sarah is a University qualified Registered Nutritionist, recipe developer, blogger, mum and foodie with a no BS approach to nutrition and healthy eating. Her strength as a nutritionist is decoding complex health messages into practical real-life advice that will make a real difference to your health and well being.
Every life-stage comes with unique nutrition priorities to best support our health. Midlife is no exception as our bodies experience natural ageing and hormonal shifts approaching menopause. While necessary, these changes can affect the body’s ability to use and store nutrients, so some dietary adjustments are needed. We do not need to fight the ageing process, but we can support our bodies as they age with these nutrition priorities:
With reduced oestrogen levels during menopause, calcium absorption decreases, increasing the risk of bone loss.
- Recommended Intake: Calcium needs increase from 1000mg in 31-50 year olds to 1300mg for women aged 51-70 years.
- Good Sources: Dairy, leafy greens, bony fish, nuts, soybeans, calcium set tofu. and fortified plant milks.
- Extra Tips: Limit sodium and alcohol to avoid calcium loss. Protein also plays vital roles in hormone synthesis and regulation, and immune system function.
Both ageing and reduced oestrogen can lead to reductions in muscle mass. Ensuring sufficient protein consumption, as well as regular physical activity can mitigate this. Women with diets higher in protein tend to have better muscle mass and function, bone health, immune function and reduced risk of falls and fractures in older age. It becomes more difficult to build muscle as we age, so entering menopause with a good muscle mass is important.
- Recommended Intake: Protein needs increase from 0.75g per kg body weight per day in 18-59 year olds to 1g protein per kg body weight per day.
- Good Sources: Lean meat and fish, legumes, nuts seeds, and soy products.
- Extra Tip: We can only store so much protein at one time and the body’s protein stores fluctuate over the course of a day. The take-home here is that you can’t simply eat a 16-pound steak once and be done with it. The body needs its protein stores to be continually replenished, which means that you should consume moderate amounts of protein at regular intervals.
3. Vitamin D
Women need more vitamin D to maintain strong bones, prevent fractures, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Vitamin D may also play a role in moderating several perimenopause and menopause symptoms and concerns.
- Recommended Intake: Vitamin D needs increase from 5ug (200IU) in 31-50 year old women to 10ug (400IU) of dietary vit D in 51-70 year old women.
- Good Sources: The main source of vitamin D is safe sun exposure (2-3 hours per week in winter). Dietary sources include mushrooms exposed to UV light (DIY), vit D fortified foods, oily fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, fish oil), liver and egg yolk.
- Extra Tip: As women age, their skin becomes less efficient at synthesising vitamin D from sunlight. This means that older women may need to get more vitamin D from their diet or supplements.
4. Omega 3
Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases and inflammatory conditions. Omega-3 fatty acids can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in women. Omega 3 may also assist in reducing the symptoms of menopause, low mood and depression in women.
- Recommended Intake: There isn’t an official RDI for Omega 3, however it is recommended that adults aim for around 1000mg a day.
- Good sources: Oily fish and wild meat such as kangaroo. We also get small amounts from flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts.
- Extra Tip: Omega 3 supplements can benefit women who don’t get enough through food. They can be prone to oxidation though, so store omega 3 supplements in a cool dark place and only buy 90 days worth at a time.
PS. Don’t forget your regular health checks!
- Regular health checks are essential for monitoring: Blood pressure, Cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, Bone scans (if indicated), Skin checks and Vitamin D, iron, B12 (blood tests)
- Breast screening (every 2 years)
- Cervical screening (every 5 years)
- Bowel screening (every 2 years)
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Helping busy women improve their nutrition habits is something we explore more in our KICKSTARTER PROGRAM and COACHING SERVICES. If you’d like more information about how we can support your nutrition goals drop me an email on email@example.com