As you approach your 40s, you should take more care of your overall health, because your basal metabolic rate decreases, estrogen levels dip, and blood vessels decrease in elasticity.
These factors increase the risk of heart disease, cognitive decline, and osteoporosis, says nutritionist Maggie Moon, author of The MIND Diet. “The good news is that what we eat—something we all do each day—can make a big and lasting impact.”
Here are nine small changes you should make after 40 to live a healthier life:
1. Take your calcium intake to another level
“As estrogen production decreases in aging women, it becomes harder to absorb calcium,” explains nutritionist Rebecca Scritchfield, author of Body Kindness. The risk of osteoporosis maximizes with age, that’s why calcium is vital for your health.
“Women over the age of 50 should aim for roughly 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily, and women in their 40s should shoot for around 1,000 milligrams calcium per day.” That comes out to about three to four daily servings of calcium-rich foods—and this doesn’t only mean things like yogurt, cheese, and milk.
In fact, many cereals and plant-based milks such as almond and soy are great sources of calcium, and dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, and collard greens are other excellent options. Calcium supplements may also be an option, but you should talk to your doctor first.