There are many metabolic pathways and several potential health benefits associated with vitamins and supplements. Approximately 13 essential vitamins and over 15 minerals that are necessary for the body to function optimally. Taking vitamins and supplements may be a great way to boost your nutrition at any age. With several options out there, it is important to know that not all options are created equally and quality is more important than quantity. You want to make sure only the best ingredients are used.
Depending on your diet, lifestyle, routine and life stage, some supplements may hold distinct advantages over others.
Women in their 30s, 40s, or 50s have very different biological needs, and often have unique goals related to their health. We understand that choosing the most appropriate vitamins and supplements can be challenging, so we’ve done the research to break down which vitamins and supplements should be considered at the various stages of life.
Folic acid is a nutrient you must either get from foods or supplement because the body is unable to make it on its own. Folic acid, also referred to as folate or vitamin B9, has numerous beneficial properties. It may support brain health, healthy DNA formation, supports cell growth and reproduction, enhances verbal fluency and memory, and is believed to potentially enhance one’s mood! The recommended daily allowance from the NIH is 400mcg of folic acid however if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant the recommendation is higher at 600mcg.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends all women of childbearing age to supplement with folic acid. Biologically speaking, women in their 20s to mid 40s are considered to be in their childbearing age. Whether you are planning to get pregnant or not, taking folic acid during these years may help maintain optimal health.
Folic acid is especially important for women who are thinking about having children and for women who are pregnant, and thus is a key ingredient in prenatal vitamins. In fact, while most people think of prenatal vitamins as something to take once you’re already pregnant, it may be more beneficial to start taking them before becoming pregnant. When taken at least 3 months before pregnancy and throughout, prenatal vitamins may help reduce the chance of birth defects.
Iron is an important supplement for women in their 30s. It is critical for red blood cell formation and it helps pump oxygen throughout the body. Oxygen is vital for both cognitive function and cellular energy levels. Iron is considered an essential mineral since we must get it from food. The recommended daily allowance of iron for women in their 30s is 18mg. Common food sources of iron include animal products (think organ meats like liver and red meats) and plant based sources (think spinach, broccoli, quinoa) along with fortified foods (think cereal).
Iron deficiency may arise in women who don’t consume a lot of meat, athletes, pregnant women, and women with moderate to heavy menstrual cycles.
Taking an iron supplement can support your health, but be careful not to over-supplement with iron. Taking too much iron can cause temporary constipation, vomiting, abdominal pain, and other symptoms. Excess iron can be toxic so making sure you work with your healthcare provider is important to monitor your levels through blood work. Iron overdose can be especially dangerous for kids, so if you are taking iron supplements, take care to ensure that they’re out of the reach of children.
Antioxidants are made in the body and most plant based foods contain them. Some studies have suggested that the darker the food, the more antioxidants may be present. Colors may be related to antioxidant capacity so this may be where the phrase, “eat the rainbow” came from. So the more variety of colors in your diet, the more likely you are to get a variety of antioxidants and nutrients.
Vitamin C is one of the many antioxidants naturally found in fruits and vegetables, like oranges, broccoli, and tomatoes. The best way to get it is to consume these foods raw (think salad or smoothies). Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and supports healthy skin from the inside out. Vitamin C helps support the immune system, supports iron absorption, and supports the creation of collagen, which supports skin’s youthful, soft, and elastic appearance.
Women in their 40s generally have a unique set of nutritional needs. Women at this stage are preparing to enter peri-menopause, the stage that precedes menopause, and may start to experience ordinary symptoms that may be a result of hormonal changes. Omega 3’s are found in fish oil and algae (as a plant based option). Omega’s are important to the body because they help make hormones that regulate several metabolic pathways. Fish oil, which contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids, may be a great supplement to support overall health during this time. Studies have shown that it may also support heart and brain health, both of which are essential for maintaining well-being beyond the 40s.
When looking for fish oil make sure your source is from wild caught fatty fish and ideally third party tested so you can rest assured that you are taking what is on the label and nothing more.
A vitamin B-complex is made up of 8 vitamins — thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine-5-phosphate (B6), biotin (B7), methylcobalamin (B12), and folate (B9). These B vitamins work together and individually to support the nervous system and energy levels by helping to convert food into fuel. B vitamins can regulate the stress response and manage hormones related to stress such as cortisol.
The B-complex at Care/of is high potency and includes the 8 vitamins mentioned earlier along with choline and inositol. Inositol is a type of natural sugar that supports cell signaling in the body. Choline is important for supporting a healthy nervous system. Choline is needed for making an essential neurotransmitter called Acetylcholine which helps support normal muscle movement, maintain optimal memory, support healthy cell structures, while also supporting healthy fat metabolism. Making sure that the b complex provides the most active forms of each B vitamin supports optimal absorption and use by the body.
Vitamins and supplements can help support health through menopause by supporting healthy hormone levels, bone health, and cardiovascular health. For women in their 50s, menopause is often a significant change that affects the body. High priority supplements for women in their 50s include vitamin D, calcium, turmeric, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Vitamin D is an especially important vitamin for women in their 50s. Vitamin D is essential for strong bones and overall health. For women in their 50s, the RDA for vitamin D is 600 IU or 15 mcg and the RDA for calcium is 1200mg. Both nutrients need to be present in the body in sufficient levels. Studies show that most people do not get the recommended daily allowances from diet alone. Potential factors that may make it challenging to reach the RDA of vitamin D include lack of sunshine. And calcium levels may be more challenging to meet with lactose intolerance or eating a vegan diet since many calcium rich foods are thought to be dairy based.
Myth bust: Dairy isn’t the only source of calcium. Contrary to popular belief there are other non-dairy calcium-containing foods to choose from including: small fish with bones (think sardines), sesame seeds, and greens (think spinach, kale, and broccoli).
In general, studies have shown that absorption of nutrients such as calcium may be more challenging with age. The NIH mentions that we start off with 60% calcium absorption as infants then the percentage decreases to 25% in adulthood and continues to decline with age! Vitamin D and Calcium work synergistically in the body. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium from food, and both nutrients may help promote bone health.
Turmeric is another great supplement for women in their 50s. Turmeric supplements are made from turmeric root, a plant grown in India and other regions. Turmeric is a yellow spice commonly used in Indian food, like curries, and has been used in traditional Indian medicine for centuries. Curcurmin is one of the main active ingredients in turmeric however intestinal absorption is not the best. Care/of uses the whole root full spectrum extract that boost bioavailability and absorption. Turmeric has powerful antioxidant like properties that has been shown to support joint health and likely supports brain health when used consistently in adequate quantities.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, a simple multivitamin may be the way to go. A multivitamin may help fill in the nutrient gaps from your diet. Nutritional supplementation, along with certain herbal products, can be an integral part of your health regimen. However, to be truly healthy as you age, it’s important to maintain the traditional pillars of wellness: a balanced diet, sufficient hydration, regular exercise, and adequate sleep.
Whatever your age, it is important to pay attention to your body’s needs as they evolve, and to understand the unique factors influencing your health. If you do decide to take supplements to help achieve your health goals, select those made from the highest quality ingredients possible.
Whatever your age, it is important to pay attention your body’s needs as they evolve, and to understand the unique factors influencing your health. If you do decide to take supplements to help achieve your health goals, select those made from the highest quality ingredients possible.