Most of us are aware that, in order to maintain general physical health and wellbeing, we should be eating a well-rounded diet. It’s also no secret that vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients can promote good health and longevity as we age. But what are these particular essentials, and why are they so important? Let’s take a closer look at the most vital nutritional elements for women in their 40’s and how you can incorporate them all into your diet through both food and supplements.
#1: Vitamin B12
This essential B vitamin is vital for maintaining a healthy nervous system and for red blood cell and DNA production and function. For women 40 and up, there are also other potential benefits to taking this vitamin.
Improves Bone Health – According to Healthline, studies indicate that taking a B12 supplement may help prevent osteoporosis. By ensuring that you are getting an adequate supply of this vitamin while in your 40’s, you may be able to promote good bone health well into old age.
Combats Dementia – The same Healthline article details that vitamin B12 may help you maintain a good memory through the protection of brain neurons, and thus could help prevent or combat dementia later in life.
Since B12 is essential, but your body can’t produce it naturally, you have to get this vitamin through food or a supplement. Taking it as a supplement can be especially important as you reach your 40’s since it is more difficult for the body to absorb the vitamin from food as you get older.
While most of us get (and absorb into our bones) the majority of the calcium we need early on in life, studies indicate that taking calcium supplements can still help maintain good bone health later in life. Strong bones are essential as we age, not only to help prevent fractures and breaks but simply to help us stay active and able to do function normally from day to day. Calcium is also important to muscle function and health, the nervous system, heart health, and other body systems and functions.
However, it is also important to remember that too much calcium can also have a detrimental effect on your body. For women in their 40’s, you should not need any more than 1,000 mg of calcium per day, and if you get some of this from your diet, you may not need to take a whole calcium supplement pill every day. Some calcium-rich foods include dairy products, broccoli, spinach, and almonds.
#3: Vitamin D
For women in their 40’s, vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients you can take as a supplement. This essential vitamin is a powerful combatant against all kinds of diseases and conditions. Ensure that you are getting enough vitamin D on a daily basis, and you can help prevent diabetes, breast cancer, colon cancer, heart disease, and more. Further, your body needs vitamin D in order to absorb calcium properly.
While you do get some vitamin D from the sun, you are more than likely not getting anywhere near enough. Some foods, such as fish, whole grains, and fortified dairy products, will provide vitamin D, but even this is not usually fully absorbed. Taking a supplement, especially one which contains D3, with at least 600 IU’s (international units) of vitamin D per day will ensure that your body gets enough of this vital nutrient.
Magnesium is a mineral that is essential to regulating normal blood pressure. This is especially important in women over 40, as high blood pressure and related cardiovascular conditions are much more likely to occur after you hit 40. Magnesium may also help prevent diabetes, heart disease, tissue inflammation, and more. Further, as with vitamin D, taking a magnesium supplement can aid in the absorption of calcium.
Most women get enough magnesium, 320 mg per day, from a well-rounded diet. You can find this mineral naturally in foods like green, leafy vegetables, avocados, soy, and some beans, nuts, and seeds. If you are not sure if you are getting enough, your doctor can run some tests. You can take a daily magnesium supplement, or half of one, to top up your dietary intake.
Potassium is an electrolyte mineral vital to body functions like proper blood pressure, a healthy nervous system, and muscle contraction. For women in their 40’s who have not yet hit menopause, getting enough daily potassium may also help prevent the risk of stroke.
Foods that contain potassium include bananas, sweet potatoes, chard, lentils, and some types of beans. You are probably already getting enough potassium in your diet, but if you are concerned that you aren’t, you should consult your doctor before starting a supplement. Some minerals won’t harm you if you take more than the recommended amount, but too much potassium could lead to gastrointestinal damage, heart damage, and cardiac arrhythmia.
#6: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
This vital nutrient is important to preventing many conditions as we age. Women in their 40’s need adequate Omega-3 fatty acids to help prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, memory problems, and brain decline.
Some foods that contain high levels of Omega-3’s include various types of fish, nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables. However, you may need an Omega supplement to get enough of these fatty acids, especially if you are 40 or over. Most women 40 and up need around 500 mg of Omega-3 per day, but if you have a condition like heart disease, you may need as much as 1,000 mg per day. Consult your doctor to determine how much of this nutrient you need.
One supplement that is frequently overlooked is probiotics. This nutrient is highly beneficial in the promotion of healthy digestion. Studies also indicate that taking probiotics may lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, all of which are more common among women after the age of 40. Taking probiotics may also help you maintain a healthy weight and a strong immune system.
Typically, you won’t get enough probiotics from your diet. You can get some from foods like dairy products and fermented soy foods, but most women will need to top up their probiotic levels with supplements.
#8: Menopause Supplements
Along with essential vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and probiotics, if you are 40 or over, you may also find it beneficial to take a menopause-specific supplement pill. Menopause supplements can be helpful both to women who are approaching menopause and who have already reached that stage.
These supplements are designed to combat uncomfortable symptoms associated with menopause, including hot flashes, difficulty sleeping, mood swings, and muscle pain. However, do your research and consult your doctor before trying a supplement for menopause, as some are better suited to the purpose than others.
Most of these supplements are formulated with hormones or herbs, but there are other options, such as those produced by Equelle. The Equelle menopause formula is created with S-equol, a natural compound. Some women naturally produce this compound in the gut, but not all women do, and even those who do produce S-equol naturally do not usually produce enough to provide adequate benefit. The S-equol found in Equelle supplements comes from an all-natural, plant-based source and is shown to provide relief from the symptoms of menopause.
As you can see, there are quite a few vital nutrients that you need to stay on top of once you reach the age of 40. If you are unsure about any of these vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, make sure you talk to your doctor before you start taking any new pills.