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Updated September 11, 2021
As you age, your nutritional needs change too. Once a woman hits 40, her body undergoes and experiences a lot of new things, including the effects of approaching menopause.
As the body changes over time, nutritional needs must change to properly maintain good health. With age, muscle mass declines and the body tends to hold onto more weight more readily. Hormones are raging thanks to menopause being on its way, and declining estrogen can make it harder to burn excess belly fat. Stomach acid production may begin to decline, and the risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease may go up.
Because you may start to require fewer calories than you once did, you might not be getting enough nutrition through your food. All this to say, your body is changing. And that means that your nutritional habits need to shape up to maintain the new you.
Whether you’ve been supplementing for awhile or are new to the game, here are some essential vitamins and nutrients your body need after age 40.
After the age of 30, most adults experience 3-8% of muscle loss every 10 years or so. This increases the risk of muscle weakness and bone fractures down the road. Though calcium and Vitamin D can help fortify your bones, giving your muscles what they need is equally important. Combining a quality protein supplement with an exercise regimen can help improve muscle mass and strength.
Vitamin B12 promotes normal blood and brain functions. Typical food sources include fish, dairy, eggs and chicken. But aging reduces the ability of the body to readily absorb this vitamin, making it more essential than ever to supplement to make sure you’re getting enough, and giving your brain what it needs to function at its best. Ten to thirty percent of adults over age 50 have decreased ability to absorb Vitamin B12 from their diet. So starting to supplement at 40 can set a foundation for better health for your later years. Plus, it’s water-soluble, so you don’t have to worry about overdosing. Anything extra will simply be excreted by the body. The recommended daily allowance for Vitamin B12 is 2.4 mg per day.
Your body is undergoing a lot of changes, and Vitamin D can help regulate the body and protect against age-related conditions. It also helps calcium be absorbed. Studies have linked low levels of Vitamin D in the body to a number of diseases, including heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes. Dietary sources include things like fish, grains, cereal and fortified dairy products. Spending a bit of time out in the sunshine can help generate Vitamin D, though sunscreen prevents its production. Since unprotected sunshine is rarely a good idea, the National Institute of Health (NIH) recommends supplementing with at least 600 IU per day of Vitamin D3.
Calcium is vital for everyone at every age and stage of life, but as you age it becomes especially important to ensure that you’re setting yourself up for healthy, latter years. Calcium is crucial for strong bones, and can help prevent osteoporosis and broken bones down the road. Your body contains a lot of calcium, and 99% of it is stored in the bones. For women between 40 and 50 years of age, the recommended daily allowance is 1,000 mg per day. Eating plenty of calcium-rich foods like tofu, sardines, almonds, broccoli, spinach and dairy items is beneficial for meeting those needs.
After 40, your blood pressure can tend to increase, especially if you are already prone to high blood pressure. Magnesium is important for regulating it, and helping stave off diabetes, heart disease and inflammation. It also enables the body to more easily absorb calcium. This element is found in beans, soy, nuts, seeds, avocados and dark, leafy greens. The recommended amount women over 40 should take each day is 320 mg, though more is generally considered safe, even though it might leave you with some uncomfortable symptoms such as nausea.
Vitamins and minerals are essential to establishing good health at every stage of life. But starting the right supplement routine once you hit 40 can help keep your body and mind at its best. Just make sure to talk to your healthcare professional before starting a supplement regimen to make sure it’s safe for you, and that it won’t have a negative effect on any medications you may be on or any health conditions you might have.