7 Essential Vitamins You Need After Age 40
Think of vitamins and nutrients as an army that will fight off age-related ailments. And the best way to build this army is by eating a healthy, well-rounded diet, says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, manager of wellness nutrition programs at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. While it’s always important to eat well, it becomes especially essential around age 40 because that’s when the rules start to change, she says. (The Power Nutrient Solution is the first-ever plan that tackles the root cause of virtually every major ailment and health condition today; get your copy now!)
She says that the body is probably not working the same way around the age of 40 as it was at 20. The muscle mass begins to deteriorate and there is an increased risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. One way is to get enough of the right nutrients and vitamins through healthy eating. Here are the nutrients that are needed for our health to be at its best:
Once you turn 40 (and definitely after turning 50), vitamin B12 should be on your radar. It’s essential for normal blood and brain function, Kirkpatrick says. And while children and younger adults are likely to get the B12 they need from food—it’s in meat and animal products including chicken, fish, dairy, and eggs—B12 is more poorly absorbed as the body ages, typically starting around 50 because that’s when stomach acid levels deplete.
Any time after 40 and before turning 50 is a good time to start getting B12 from a supplement or multivitamin. Aim for 2.4 mg per day (the current recommended dietary allowance), though there’s no need to worry about taking too much, Kirkpatrick adds. Because it’s a water-soluble vitamin, you pee out what you don’t need. (Speaking of pee, here’s what its color says about your health.)
There were 59 studies made to measure the importance of calcium in preventing fractures for women and men that are over 50, and discovered that increasing the intake of calcium (from supplements or food) wasn’t likely to significantly reduce the risk of fracture. Another research has associated the calcium supplement to increased risk of cardiac death, stroke and heart attack for postmenopausal women.
Even the bones absorb most of the calcium, the nutrient is important in maintaining health of bones later in life. It is needed for other basic functions of the body like heart functioning, nerve functioning and muscle contraction and if there is not enough of calcium, the body steals it from the bones and in the same time weakens them.
Most of the women can take calcium that they need and that is 1000 milligrams per day for women from 40 to 50 and 1,200 milligrams for those over the age of 50 if they consume diet rich in calcium foods like spinach, almonds, broccoli, sardines, tofu and dairy.
D is a biggie, Kirkpatrick says, especially after 40, because it helps protect against the age-related changes that start to kick in. Vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and breast and colorectal cancers—all of which are more likely to crop up the older you get. Plus, D is essential for absorption of calcium in the body, she says.
Dietary sources include fish and fortified dairy, grains, and cereals, but generally the D you get from food is poorly absorbed. The sun is the best source of the vitamin, but not everyone lives close enough to the equator to be exposed to the strong rays that will deliver the D you need, Kirkpatrick explains.
“If you’re living anywhere above Georgia, you’re probably not getting enough vitamin D from the sun,” she says. Plus, you don’t absorb it with sunscreen on—and you definitely don’t want to be hanging out in the sun without sunscreen (despite any vitamin D benefits). She recommends a D3 supplement (D3 being the type of vitamin D closest to what you would get from the sun). You should be getting at least 600 IU per day (and 800 IU per day after 50), according to current National Institutes of Health recommendations. The tolerable upper limit (i.e., the amount that will not cause harm) is as much as 4,000 IU per day. If you’re too low in D, here are the 10 worst things that can happen when you don’t get enough vitamin D.
The main function of the magnesium is to regulate the blood pressure. Lack in magnesium is linked to inflammation, diabetes and heart disease. It helps the body to absorb the calcium and it is important for the heart, nerve and muscle function and blood glucose control.
If you consume balanced and healthy diet, you are likely to get the needed magnesium from food which is 320 milligrams per day for women around age of 40 and over. Magnesium sources are avocados, seeds, nuts, soy, beans and dark leafy greens. Too much of magnesium doesn’t pose health risks buy it may cause cramping, nausea and diarrhea.
Potassium plays a key role in keeping blood pressure in check, no matter your age, Kirkpatrick says. In postmenopausal women, research has linked higher intake of potassium from food to decreased risk of stroke—though “high” intake was considered approximately 3.1 g, which is still lower than the recommended 4.7 g per day. And the benefits were seen in those getting as little as 2 g per day, says study author Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, PhD, a professor in the department of epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Potassium is definitely a nutrient you want to be getting enough of, but unless your MD prescribes it for another medical condition, Kirkpatrick cautions against taking potassium supplements. Too much potassium can damage the gastrointestinal tract and the heart, and can cause potentially life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias. Most people can get the potassium they need by eating a varied, healthy diet that includes bananas, sweet potatoes, chard, beans, and lentils. You’re highly unlikely to get enough potassium in your diet to be dangerous, Kirkpatrick says. If your doctor does prescribe supplements, she should carefully monitor how they affect you, she says.
It is technically not a vitamin, but it deserves this place because of its numerous health benefits. It fights the changes that come with aging like increased risk of heart disease and cognitive decline. It has been shown in a research that that it lowers the blood pressure and the LDL cholesterol levels, plays a role in keeping thinking and memory sharp and reduces the risk of heart disease.
It was found in a study that people with higher omega 3 fatty acid levels in the blood performed better on memory tests, had larger brains compared to those with lower levels.
Sources of omega 3 fatty acids are leafy vegetables, flaxseeds, walnuts and fish. Supplement intake is a good way to make sure you get the enough amounts. Ask a doctor about the right dose if you are taking anticoagulant drugs because it can have serious side-effects.
Probiotics are not technically vitamins or minerals either, but they’re important essentials for women 40 and up, Kirkpatrick says. Mounting evidence suggests probiotics play a role in keeping the gut healthy and weight down, and even in lowering risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke—all of which is especially important around 40 when muscle mass starts to decrease, making it easier to put on weight and develop insulin resistance.
And though you can get probiotics in some dairy and fermented soy products like seitan, foods typically will not contain as many strains as a supplement—and each strain comes with its own benefit, some for helping to control weight, others for helping prevent diarrhea. Plus, because probiotics are actually live and active cultures, you won’t be able to get them from foods that are cooked or heated.