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50+: Live Better, Longer

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Healthy Living Is the Real Fountain of Youth

While there's no magic bullet to guarantee aging beautifully, you can take simple steps to keep you looking and feeling younger.
WebMD Magazine


You won't find a miracle age eraser in a bottle or magic pill. There's only one secret to looking and feeling younger, and that's better living. These seven simple steps from WebMD's top women's health experts will reinvigorate every part of your body, helping you feel stronger, more energized, and youthful -- no matter how many candles you blow out on your next birthday. 

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1. BoneUp on Calcium 

To keep your perfect posture and avoid the senior slump, a milk mustache is the must-have accessory for every season. Milk (plus yogurt, cheese, and other dairy foods) is loaded with calcium. You need at least 1,200 milligrams of this nutrient every day, especially after menopause, when you're missing out on the estrogen that helps keep bones strong. "Oftentimes women are skimping on this big time," says Pam Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, who writes the WebMD blog, "Everyday Fitness with Pamela Peeke," and authored Body for Life for Women: A Woman's Plan for Physical and Mental Transformation

If your diet is lacking in dairy take a calcium supplement, but don't just pop one in the morning and think you're done with it. Taking small doses (500 mg or less) two or three times a day helps your body absorb the calcium more easily. 

Also don't forget calcium's partner in bone strength -- vitamin D.  You need at least 1,000 IU of it daily, too. To preserve the calcium you do have, cut back on the vente double espressos. "Caffeine is one of the bad boys," Peeke warns, because it interferes with calcium absorption. 

2. Ban the Tan 

Remember the summers when you used to slather on the baby oil and sun worship for hours? As you get older, your payback for those golden tans is extra lines and wrinkles, plus an increased risk for skin cancer. But it's not too late to stop and even reverse sun damage. Stay out of the sun as much as possible, and wear a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen when you do go outside. 

To erase some of the wrinkles and damage you've already accumulated, ask your dermatologist about using a prescription-strength vitamin A cream, one of the few anti-aging products that lives up to its hype. 

Want to look instantly younger without spending a penny? Cheer up! "I think that stress and emotional strain are aging. People purse their lips, they frown, they look anxious," says Marianne J. Legato, MD, FACP, director of the Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine at Columbia University. "Reduction of stress and a pleasant outlook, or at least a peaceful outlook, does improve looks." 

3.  Women and Heart Health 

Looking 50 when you're 60 won't do you much good if you've got the heart of an 80-year-old. Heart disease is the single biggest killer of women -- deadlier than every type of cancer combined. How do your risks measure up? A big tummy is just one sign you're headed for metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms (including high blood pressure and "bad" LDL cholesterol) that boosts your odds of getting heart disease, Peeke says. 

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