I’ll admit it, turning 40 really turned me upside down and I didn’t think it would. Up until then, I suppose I was feeling pretty invincible and not paying too much attention to my own health or wellbeing.
I wasn’t particularly treating my body, or my preventative health with any priority. In fact, I wasn’t thinking about my health at all. But as an older, wiser close friend told me, turning 40 isn’t all doom and gloom. If anything, it’s a great time to take charge of my health. To take action now so that any of those new health factors that come with those few extra candles on my birthday cake, will be no big deal.
So what are some of the biggest health concerns women might or will face over 40 though?
1. Lowered vitamin D levels.
Our bodies can obtain vitamin D in three, unique ways:
- Through foods that are naturally rich in vitamin D like egg yolks, cheese and fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon.
- Through synthesis in your skin when it is exposed to sunlight. Basically, the more your skin is exposed to the sun the more vitamin D is produced;
- And lastly, through dietary supplements.
While your diet and level of sun exposure happen to be the best ways to obtain the vitamin D your body needs, our skin’s ability to produce vitamin D with exposure to sunlight decreases as we age.
We also have to also be aware of the importance of ‘adequate levels’ of sunlight exposure for strong bones, but for some that is sometimes difficult to achieve. With this in mind, taking a vitamin D supplement daily may become an important factor in the management of osteoporosis as we age. In fact, research has shown that by adding a vitamin D supplement to our daily line up we reduce the risk of a fracture in two ways: by decreasing falls and increasing bone density. And in addition to bone health, vitamin D may also affect muscle strength.
Essentially, the moral of the story is this: talk with your doctor about your vitamin D levels. You never know, you might need a bit of a helping hand.
2. Breast cancer.
Turning 40 doesn’t automatically put you into a ‘high risk’ category for breast cancer, but obviously the older you are, the more your chances increase, especially if you are predisposed to the gene. The best thing you can do is to catch it early. And the way to do this is to “know” your own breasts and body.