What supplements should women over 40 take?

Karen Ansel
Nutrition & Dietetics
Once a woman hits her 40s and she starts to approach menopause her body and nutrition needs begin to change. As estrogen levels decrease she may start to see less padding in her hips and thighs and more belly fat. That decline in estrogen also affects bone health, making calcium critical. What's more decreased stomach acid also makes it harder to absorb calcium from foods. This doesn't just affect bone health but can also increase hormonal swings related to PMS as well. 

For women in their 40s calcium (and vitamin D to help absorb calcium) are more important than ever. You can get your daily 1,000mg dose of calcium from 3 servings of dairy. But if that's not your thing, a supplement in 2 divided doses of 500 mg apiece will also work. Because vitamin D is difficult to get from foods, consider a supplement of between 600 and 1,000IU.
What supplements, if any, one should take are affected not only by diet, but by one’s desired health outcome. Supplements, as the name implies, are just that -- a supplement to one’s diet. The ability of a woman at age 40 to achieve ideal nutrient intake from food alone is difficult for most in practice and is influenced by food choices, calorie intake and activity. The more active one is, the more calories they can eat, and the easier it is to get the nutrients needed for optimal health. Still, getting what one needs is a challenge. 

A 1995 study in the JADA tasked 43 dietitians with meeting government recommendations using up to 2400 calories (exceeding the 2000 calorie levels on which the recommendations were based). All of the dieticians failed at the task, showing just how difficult it can be meet nutrient recommendations from food alone. 

The results of many nutrition surveys, including the NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey), show women falling short on calcium, iron, zinc, folate and vitamins A and D. The intake of most B vitamins are suboptimal as well. One should always try to address nutrition through food first. Adding low-fat milk or other dairy products can increase calcium and vitamin D (in fortified milk). Orange juice can often be found fortified with these nutrients as well (the acidity increases calcium absorption). Bread, baked goods and grains/cereals have been fortified with folate in an attempt to increase its intake. Brightly colored fruits and vegetable provide a variety of nutrients, especially anti-oxidants. Sadly though, most Americans fall short on implementing these dietary recommendations.

Simply put, if you do not eat it, then you better find another way to get it. For many, the daily use of a properly formulated multiple vitamin and mineral formula will cover the bases and make up for common insufficient or suboptimal intakes. For exercisers who fail to get adequate fruit and vegetable intake (5-7 servings/day), the use of an antioxidant supplement may be helpful as well. dotFIT addresses these needs with the following formulas:
  • Women’s MV - for non-exercising women.
  • Active MV - for active, exercising women up to age 65
  • Superior Antioxidant - designed to complement our MV formulas
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Women over 40 need to increase their supplement intake to make up for common deficiencies such as low vitamin D. The body needs vitamin D to help absorb calcium and protect against bone loss associated with osteoporosis.

You're at greater risk for low vitamin D if you have dark skin, regularly wear high SPF sunscreen, or live in a northern climate. To get enough vitamin D from the sun, you need about 15 to 20 minutes of daily exposure, which is not always possible.

Other recommended supplements include calcium-magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and a good multivitamin.

This content originally appeared on doctoroz.com

Continue Learning about Dietary Supplements

Dietary Supplements

Whether you're visiting the drug store, grocery or natural food shop you'll likely find an aisle where there are jars and bottles of things for you to put in your body that are neither foods nor medicines. Ranging from vitamins an...

d minerals to fiber and herbal remedies, these supplements are not regulated in the same way as either food or medicine. Some of them are backed by solid research, others are folk remedies or proprietary cures. If your diet does not include enough of certain vitamins or minerals, a supplement may be a good idea. Natural treatment for conditions like constipation may be effective. But because these substances are unregulated, it is always a good idea to educate yourself about the products and to use common sense when taking them. This is even more true if you are pregnant or taking a medicine that may be affected by supplements.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.