With the jury still out on the benefits of vitamin and mineral supplements -- including multivitamins -- the mantra you'll most likely hear from doctors and nutritionists is to get your nutrients from food whenever possible. But that's not always easy, especially within a limited calorie budget.
Harvard Women's Health Watch consulted two nutrition experts to find out if a supplement-free, nutrient-rich, low-calorie diet is possible to achieve. Their conclusion: yes, with the exception of vitamin D, which is tough to obtain through diet and sun exposure alone (unless you live in the southern latitudes and spend a lot of time outside).
Here's what the newsletter says a 1,200-calorie diet that satisfies the nutrient needs for women ages 51 to 70 might look like:
Breakfast: 8 oz. nonfat yogurt, ½ cup sliced papaya, ½ cup sliced kiwi, 1 oz. (14 halves) walnuts, 4 oz. skim milk.
Lunch: 1 small whole-wheat pita, green salad (1 cup dark green lettuce, 1 red or orange pepper, 1 cup grape tomatoes, ½ cup edamame beans, 1 tbsp. unsalted sunflower seeds, salad dressing made with 1 tbsp. olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and pepper).
Dinner: 4 oz. broiled wild salmon with yogurt sauce (1 tbsp. Greek-style nonfat yogurt, 1 tsp. lemon juice, 1 clove chopped garlic), 1 cup steamed baby bok choy, ¼ cup cooked barley, and ¼ cup cooked lentils with spices to taste.