Essential Vitamins and Minerals That You Need After Age 40
Vitamins and minerals are considered essential nutrients — because acting jointly, they perform various roles in the body. According to nutrition specialists, these Essential nutrients are always important for our health, but especially after we turn 40.
Since after we turn 40 the rules start to change. Muscle mass starts to deteriorate, we’re much more likely to put on weight, menopause may (or may soon) start, and risk of chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes begins to increase—which means your battle plan needs to start looking a little different.
Eating a healthy diet remains the best way to get sufficient amounts of the vitamins and minerals you need. But food sources are typically (but not always) a better bet than supplements because they’re better absorbed.
Here are the vitamins and minerals our body requires after the age of 40:
Vitamin B12 should be on your radar once you turn 40 – and definitely after turning 50. Vitamin B12 does a lot of things for your body. Since your body doesn’t make vitamin B12, you have to get it from animal-based foods like chicken, fish, dairy, and eggs (or from supplements). And you should do that on a regular basis because your body doesn’t store vitamin B12 for a long time.
The average recommended amounts, measured in micrograms (mcg), vary by age:
• Infants up to age 6 months: 0.4 mcg
• Babies age 7-12 months: 0.5 mcg
• Children age 1-3 years: 0.9 mcg
• Kids age 4-8 years: 1.2 mcg
• Children age 9-13 years: 1.8 mcg
• Teens age 14-18: 2.4 mcg (2.6 mcg per day if pregnant and 2.8 mcg per day if breastfeeding)
• Adults: 2.4 mcg (2.6 mcg per day if pregnant and 2.8 • mcg per day if breastfeeding)
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. Because it’s a water-soluble vitamin, you pee out what you don’t need.
Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the body, is found in some foods, added to others, available as a dietary supplement, and present in some medicines (such as antacids).
The body stores more than 99 percent of its calcium in the bones and teeth to help make and keep them strong.
Bones absorb most of the calcium they need earlier in life (typically before age 30), the nutrient does play a role in maintaining bone health later in life, too. The nutrient is needed for other basic body functions like muscle contraction, nerve and heart functioning, and other biochemical reactions—and if you’re not getting enough calcium from your diet, the body steals calcium from your bones (and weakens them).
Vitamin D has several important functions. Perhaps the most vital are regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorous and facilitating normal immune system function. Getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D is important for normal growth and development of bones and teeth, as well as improved resistance to certain diseases.
Not many foods contain vitamin D naturally. Because of this, some foods are fortified. This means that vitamin D has been added. Foods that contain vitamin D include salmon, sardines, egg yolk, shrimp, milk (fortified), cereal (fortified), yogurt (fortified), orange juice (fortified).
It can be hard to get enough vitamin D each day through sun exposure and food alone, so taking vitamin D supplements can help.
Magnesium is a mineral that’s crucial to the body’s function. Magnesium helps keep blood pressure normal, bones strong, and the heart rhythm steady. This is especially important for women 40-plus, who are already at risk of high blood pressure due to normal aging.
The human body contains approximately 25 grams of magnesium. Over 50 percent of that magnesium is stored in the skeletal system, and the rest is found in muscle, soft tissues, and bodily fluids.
Magnesium deficiency, especially prevalent in older populations, is linked to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease, and osteoporosis.
Potassium is a mineral that your body needs to work properly. It is a type of electrolyte. Electrolytes conduct electrical impulses throughout the body. They assist in a range of essential body functions, including:
• blood pressure
• normal water balance
• muscle contractions
• nerve impulses
• heart rhythm
• pH balance (acidity and alkalinity)
Potassium isn’t produced naturally by the body, so it’s important to consume the right balance of potassium-rich foods and beverages. Sources of potassium in the diet include
• Leafy greens, such as spinach and collards
• Fruit from vines, such as grapes and blackberries
• Root vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes
• Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit
Consuming too little potassium can lead to serious health consequences. However, taking in too much can also cause temporary or long-term health problems. Healthy kidneys maintain normal potassium levels in the body because they remove excess amounts through urine.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Technically not a vitamin, omega-3 fatty acids still deserve a place on this list because of their myriad health benefits. Omega-3s help counteracts some of the negative changes that come with aging, like increased heart disease risk and cognitive decline.
Research has shown that Omega-3 benefits your heart health, normalizes and regulates your cholesterol triglyceride levels, lowers blood pressure.
Some research suggests that omega-3s may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and have a positive effect on gradual memory loss linked to aging. But that’s not certain yet.
Omega-3 comes from both animal and plant sources. The primary animal sources are krill oil and fish oil. The primary plant sources are flaxseed, chia, and hemp.
How Much Omega-3 Is Right for You?
There is no set recommended standard dose of omega-3 fats, but some health organizations recommend a daily dose of 250 to 500 milligrams (mg) of EPA and DHA for healthy adults.
The American Heart Association recommends people with coronary heart disease consume 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA daily while those with high triglycerides may need 2,000 to 3,000 mg per day.
Krill oil more effectively raises omega-3 levels compared to fish oil, even though krill oil delivers lower amounts of EPA and DHA on a gram per gram basis.
Probiotics are not technically vitamins or minerals either, but they’re important essentials for women 40 and up.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts promoted as having various health benefits. They’re usually added to yogurts or taken as food supplements, and are often described as ‘good’ or ‘friendly’ bacteria.
Mounting evidence suggests probiotics contribute in keeping the gut healthy and weight down and even in decreasing risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke—all of which is very important around forty when muscle mass begins to decrease, making it easier to put on weight and develop insulin resistance.
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