number forty

What are the best vitamins and minerals for women over 40?

Today we will discuss what are the best vitamins for women over 40 years of age. But why over 40? What happens then specifically? Well, chances are we might put on a bit more weight, our muscle mass begins to deteriorate, and the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes begin to increase. So after 40, our nutritional strategy requires a bit of tweaking.

The first step as always is to ensure you consume a healthy nutritional diet, and there are good sources available to you on how to do this. But there are some key vitamins and minerals that you should be particularly aware of that will benefit your health and well-being as you pass through your 40th year.

The first of these is vitamin B12. It is an essential nutrient required to maintain normal brain and blood functions. And though we would normally obtain adequate levels of this vitamin from meat products such as chicken, fish, dairy and eggs, our ability to absorb it declines with age. And looking at these sources, if you subscribe to a vegan diet, you may want to seriously consider a supplement, which you can without worry of over-supplementing as it is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning any excess will be dispatched through urination. Furthermore, vitamin B12 shares another benefit with all the other B vitamins such as biotin, folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, and vitamin B6. They help maintain your metabolism which degrades with age, making maintenance of weight a little more challenging as those of us in this age bracket might already know.

Another important one is vitamin D. Deficiencies in vitamin D have been linked to conditions that unfortunately occur with more frequency as we pass through 40. These include heart disease, breast, colorectal and other forms of cancer as well as diabetes.  Vitamin D also contributes to the body’s ability to absorb calcium from our diet, which not only helps in the maintenance of bone health, but in other important bodily functions as well. The best source of vitamin D is from the sun. Dietary sources such as grains and dairy products that have been fortified with vitamin D are also options, but from these sources it is poorly absorbed by our body. So if you live in more northern regions where there is less exposure to the sun, vitamin D supplementation (vitamin D3 to be specific) is something you may want to consider. And if you live in a more southern part of the country but wear sunscreen all the time to protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays, your sunscreen will limit vitamin D absorption. And so again, supplementation could be a consideration.

As we get older, we are also at risk of having a higher blood pressure which we all know can lead to a whole host of more severe cardiovascular problems. Proper levels of magnesium can help regulate your blood pressure, while deficiencies have also been linked to those conditions that we are more susceptible to post 40 years of age – diabetes, heart disease and inflammatory issues. But magnesium is important for so much more. It is significant for thyroid function and stress related hormones, and plays a key role in serotonin production, a hormone that regulates your mood and sleep patterns. Your body will exhaust a great deal of your magnesium supply when you are stressed, so if this paints a picture of your life, supplementation could be ideal. Otherwise, if you eat a balanced healthy diet that includes good dietary magnesium sources such as leafy greens, avocados, beans, nuts and seeds, you will likely be ingesting all the magnesium your body requires. 

You should also be keeping an eye out on your potassium levels. Just like magnesium, potassium plays an important role in regulating your blood pressure. Furthermore, a link between higher potassium intake to a decreased risk of stroke has been observed in post-menopausal women. However, this does not necessarily mean you should rush out and get potassium supplements. As usual, just maintaining a healthy diet will suffice. In fact, supplementing with potassium is associated with some risks, including heart and gastrointestinal tract damage and can also lead to potentially dangerous cardiac arrythmias.

After you turn 40, you should also carefully examine your omega-3 fatty acid intake, as this nutrient can have positive influences on the risk of cognitive decline and heart disease, helps fight inflammations (think arthritis here) and supports hormone function. Unlike potassium, supplementation could be an effective choice for keeping up your levels of omega-3 fatty acid, though oily fish, flaxseeds, walnuts and leafy greens are excellent dietary sources.

Finally, you can never lose with vitamin C. It boosts your immune system, helps with collagen production and is also an effective antioxidant which can help battle oxidative attack by environmental factors on our cells. It is a water-soluble vitamin which means our bodies cannot store excesses of it for when they are needed, so if your diet does not include a healthy dose of fruit each day, you may want to consider a supplement.

Take away message

As we move beyond 40 years of age, our bodies change and make maintaining our health and well being a bit more challenging. So what can we do? What are the best vitamins and minerals for women over 40? We’ve outlined some of the most important in this blog, which include vitamin B12 in particular, but also all of the other B vitamins, magnesium and potassium, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin C (many of which are in our product). The first course of action should be to maintain proper levels of these through a healthy balanced diet but in some cases you may wish to consider supplementation. However, please consult a physician prior to supplementing for potassium as there are consequential side effects.

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