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. While it’s always important to eat well, it becomes especially essential around age 40 because that’s when the rules start to change.
Your body probably isn’t working the same way at 40-plus as it was at 20. 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.
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. Any time after 40 and before turning 50 is a good time to start getting B12 from a supplement or multivitamin.
Calcium plays a role in maintaining bone health later in life. 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).
D is a biggie, especially after 40, because it helps protect against the age-related changes that start to kick in. Deficiencies in vitamin D 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 the absorption of calcium in the body.
A key function of magnesium is to help regulate blood pressure, which is especially important for women 40-plus, who are already at risk of high blood pressure due to normal ageing. Deficiencies in magnesium have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and inflammation, Kirkpatrick adds. Plus, it helps the body absorb calcium and plays a role in muscle, nerve, and heart function, as well as blood glucose control.
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.
Technically not a vitamin, omega-3 fatty acids still deserve a place on this list because of their myriad health benefits, and especially because they help counteract some of the negative changes that come with ageing, like increased heart disease risk and cognitive decline. Research has shown that omega-3s help lowers blood pressure and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart disease, and play a role in keeping memory and thinking sharp.
Probiotics are not technically vitamins or minerals either, but they’re important essentials for women 40 and up. They 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.