During your 30s
For women in their 30s, Dr. Avena says: It is never too early to start thinking about brain health, and having a diet rich in antioxidants early in life, before memory problems set it, is great work [for] brain health. Also, incorporating more phytochemicals, which are disease-protecting chemicals found in many plants, is a great way to stay healthy and ward off problems that might hit you later in life.
Critical needs during this decade are: Antioxidants and phytochemicals.
Foods that naturally provide those needs are: Spirulina, which is a type of algae, is a great way to get both antioxidants and phytochemicals. Many foods promote antioxidants in the body, including blueberries, cranberries, beans and artichokes. Phytochemicals are found in foods like tomatoes, or orange-colored vegetables, like carrots and squash.
During your 40s
For women in their 40s, Dr. Avena says: Many women in their 40s are interested in feeling and looking their best. Fine lines may start to appear, and joint pain can also become an issue, especially for those who exercise regularly. In part, this is due to collagen protein production in our bodies slowing down. Protein is the building blocks of cells, and we need to continue to get protein throughout our lives in our diet or via a supplement.
Critical needs during this decade are: Boosting protein levels, like [through] collagen protein.
Foods that naturally provide those needs are: Certain protein sources have been found to promote healthy skin and reduce joint pain. Collagen can be found in foods that contain bone broth. Cabbage and avocado can also help to boost collagen levels naturally.
Supplements women in their 40s should research or consider: Switching over from a whey to a collagen protein supplement is a great way to boost collagen levels and feel and see the benefits.
During your 50s
For women in their 50s, Dr. Avena says: At this age, there is a need to support a healthy circulatory system. Heart disease is the #1 killer of women, and women in their 50s are at risk.
Critical needs during this decade are: Vitamin B12 can help promote a healthy circulatory system and nervous system, as well as provide us sustained levels of energy. Even a slight deficiency can lead to anemia, fatigue and depression, so keeping B12 levels in check is important for overall health.
Foods that naturally provide those needs are: Clams, fish, crab and fortified foods (like cereals and tofu).
Supplements women in their 50s should research or consider: “I think supplementing with B12 is a must because most people are deficient in it, and it is hard to get from diet alone.
During your 60s
For women in their 60s and beyond, Dr. Avena says: A big concern for women 60+ is maintaining good bone health. At this age, women are at risk for osteoporosis and bone injury.
Critical needs during this time are: Calcium with Vitamin D. Calcium alone won’t do the trick to promote bone health and strength. You also need Vitamin D, which many women are deficient in at this age.
Foods that naturally provide those needs are: Calcium can be found in milk, cheese, yogurt, soybeans and fortified products (like orange juice).
Supplements women in their 60s and beyond should research or consider: Calcium works best in conjunction with Vitamin D.
While zeroing in on your particular life stage is integral, when asked if she was to encourage readers to make one change to their nutritional needs today — regardless of age — what change would that be? Dr. Avena answers confidently, “Cut out foods with added sugars. Many processed foods contain added sugars, and excess sugar intake has been linked not only to obesity but many other diseases. Cutting back on processed foods is a great way to reduce the intake of added sugar. Opt for sweets in the form of fruits.”