Women's Changing Needs
Though the aging process is not particularly welcomed in Western societies, it is a natural transition that when supported optimally can go more smoothly. It's normal for our needs to change as we age but most of us don't support these needs adequately as they occur or work on preventing unwanted conditions and symptoms.
Often times this will show up as fatigue, accelerated aging of the skin, menopausal symptoms, poor bone health, impaired immune function, cardiovascular disease, unstable blood pressure, and more.
Menopause is an especially transitory time for women which can bring about many physical changes due to changing hormonal fluctuations. And let's be honest, sometimes it can feel like a hormonal rollercoaster!
These dropping hormones and imbalances can often lead to symptoms such as weight gain, brain fog, irritability, low libido, hot flashes, fatigue, hair loss, cravings, and poor cognitive function.
In addition to these physical changes there is a lot that can change too in a woman's life that can add onto the stress such as changes in the workplace, family dynamics, aging parents, finances, relationships, and shifts in habits and routines.
The good news is you can take steps to best support this transition, protect your health, and minimize symptoms. It's a time to become even more mindful of your day to day habits and how you take care of your body.
This is where a healthy diet, lifestyle, and dietary supplements can be implemented and modified in order to best meet changing needs as women age, fill in any nutrient gaps, reduce health risks, and support healthy aging.
There are specific nutrients for women that are more tailored to the female body and its aging process which can help to support the transition after menopause and beyond.
10 Best Vitamin Supplements Women Over 50
CoQ10 is an antioxidant naturally made by the body and found in every cell however levels decline with age. It helps to fight against cell-damaging free radicals and assists in cellular processes.
Declining levels of coQ10 can result in fatigue, accelerated aging, increased risk for heart disease, cancers, and metabolic conditions, and a weakened immune system (1)(2).
This is a fundamental compound for energy production inside of the cell but also protecting cardiovascular health (3)(4).
Taking coQ10 can help to improve symptoms that may be associated with menopause like migraines, depression, cognitive decline, accelerated aging of the skin, and hot flashes but also the risk of conditions like heart disease in the aging population (5)(6)(7).
2. Black Cohosh
A natural herb popular for the treatment of menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, heart palpitations, sleep disturbances, nervousness, and irritability (8)(9).
Its mechanism of action may be related to its phytoestrogen properties that help to balance out declining levels of estrogen that occur during the transitional menopausal years, however, more research is needed to confirm this (10).
Black Cohosh has some promising studies backing its effectiveness to address symptoms of menopause though researchers are still waiting for larger population studies.
This mineral never seems to fail to impress! Magnesium is an essential mineral known for its calming effects but it doesn't stop there. It can influence mood, brain function, bone health, metabolism, hormones, and more as it plays an important role in over 300 reactions in the body (11).
Magnesium is a common mineral deficiency and low levels may impact menopausal symptoms.
It is an essential mineral for bone health as roughly 60% of the total magnesium in the body is stored in the bone.
Poor bone health and conditions such as osteoporosis increase as we age and can affect postmenopausal women more significantly due to declining estrogen levels, among other reasons (12).
Osteoporosis affects millions of people around the world, male and female, but predominantly postmenopausal women (13).
It is said that 1 in 3 women worldwide over the age of 50 will experience an osteoporotic fracture (14). This is why it's absolutely essential to work on prevention with the appropriate dietary, lifestyle, and supplement support.
Low levels of magnesium are associated with an increased risk of developing osteoporosis due to increased inflammation, modification of parathyroid hormone, inhibition of osteoblast growth, and increase of osteoclast activity resulting in bone breakdown (15).
Supplementing with magnesium has been shown to improve bone health by decreasing bone turnover and bone loss (16)
DIM is typically included in PMS formulas to help balance estrogen excess symptoms in women of reproductive age but it may also be useful for older women as well. DIM stands for diindolylmethane and is the main active compound found in cruciferous vegetables.
DIM has been used as a chemo-preventive herb and may be useful in the treatment of breast cancer by promoting healthier estrogen metabolism (17)(18).
It may also help to relieve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes but studies are lacking in this area.
It is recommended to consult your doctor before supplementing with DIM as it is not recommended in all cases such as conditions of low estrogen.
5. Passion Flower
Passionflower is a soothing herb commonly used to promote feelings of calm and relaxation. During menopause many women may experience problems with sleep but also issues with mood and higher stress levels.
This herb may be used as an alternative treatment for menopausal symptoms that may include insomnia, depression, mood swings, headaches, and hot flashes (19)(20).
Passionflower can help to naturally improve GABA and serotonin, low levels of which are associated with anxiety and depression (21)(22).
Turmeric is a traditional Ayurvedic herb that is well known for its potent anti-inflammatory effects, notably due to its active compound curcumin (23).
Increased systemic inflammation can be a common contributor to increased menopausal symptoms but it can also increase the risk of health complications as chronic inflammation is at the root of most health problems.
Turmeric may also have another compound responsible for improved menopausal symptoms called diarylheptanoide, a phytoestrogen shown to help improve bone outcomes in menopausal women (24)(25).
Turmeric is often used as a natural pain killer and could potentially help relieve pain associated with headaches and migraines occurring during menopause and inflammation is a common root cause to these symptoms (26)(27).
The use of turmeric has also been demonstrated to help treat depression as it has been suggested that this condition is associated with increased inflammation (28)(29).
7. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These omega fats are absolutely essential yet the average person tends to not get enough of them!
Western diets are commonly low in omega-3 fatty acids and contain excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids.
Overconsumption of omega 6 fatty acids and under consumption of omega 3 fatty acids can promote an inflammatory state in the body. Though we do need to obtain both kinds of fats, omega-3 fatty acids exert more of an anti-inflammatory and cardio-protective effect whereas omega-6 fatty acids exert pro-inflammatory effects and can increase the risk of cardio-metabolic disorders and even cancer (30).
Essential omega-3 fats are associated with benefits in brain function, heart health and have been shown to protect against metabolic syndrome and obesity (31).
These fats can be especially protective against health problems associated with the aging population but also symptoms and risks associated with menopause such as metabolic disorders, cardiovascular disease, hot flashes, osteoporosis, and breast cancer (32)(33)(34).
Omega 3 fats play an important role in hormonal balance as they are involved in the production and function of hormones.
It is recommended that all populations maintain healthy levels of omega 3 fats but this may be even more important for post menopausal women.
The most popular form of omega 3 supplementation is fish oil however algae oil provides an effective alternative that is vegan friendly.
8. St. John's Wort
Traditionally used in the treatment of mental health conditions for centuries, St.John's Wort is widely used in herbal medicine to treat depression and is even used as a natural alternative to antidepressants.
Menopause can be associated with cognitive and mood changes including anxiety and depression and research shows that this herb can help to alleviate such psychological symptoms (35).
Research has also shown that St.john's Wort was able to improve frequency and severity of hot flashes experienced by menopausal women (36).
Always check with your health care provider before starting this herbal remedy as it can interfere with medications.
9. Calcium + K2 + D3
Vitamin K2, calcium, and vitamin D3 are essential bone supporting nutrients. Though calcium is relatively easy to receive from dietary intake, vitamin K and vitamin D are more challenging and more commonly low. Vitamin D deficiency is an especially common issue especially among the aging populations and those living in the Northern Hemisphere who don't get adequate sunlight exposure.
Vitamin D is poorly obtained from food sources and most efficiently obtained from exposed to sunlight or supplementation. Vegan diets are especially poor in Vitamin D3 and it's recommended to test your levels with your healthcare provider in order to avoid any risk of nutrient deficiencies.
Though vitamin D and calcium have been shown to particularly benefit bone health in postmenopausal women they are also important for overall quality of life (37).
Alongside vitamin D, Vitamin K is involved in increasing the body's utilization of calcium and may help increase bone strength and reduce the risk of bone health complications like fractures in women post menopause (38)(39).
10. B Vitamins
This blend of vitamins can be used for many health conditions as the B vitamins are responsible for a wide variety of functions in the human body ranging from metabolism, hormone production, neurotransmitters, energy production, cognitive function, nervous system regulation, nerve function, hair, skin, and nail growth and more.
But what about menopause and aging? Well the B vitamins can also help!
Many of the common menopausal symptoms can also be similar to low B vitamin deficiency symptoms which may look like anxiety, low stress tolerance, irritability, poor focus, fatigue, and weight issues.
When a woman transitions during the menopausal years naturally the ovaries start to decline and halt production of sex hormones when the adrenal glands take over more responsibility. This can be taxing and overwhelming for the adrenals if they are depleted and lacking the nutrients to properly do their work. B vitamins are nutrients that are essential for optimal adrenal gland function and hormone production but that can be easily depleted under high and long term stress conditions.
It can be fairly easy and common to lack sufficient B vitamins due to reduced absorption in the intestines, high stress, medications, and increased requirements occurring during and menopausal years (40).
Low levels of these vitamins have been associated with low bone mineral density, cognitive dysfunction, cognitive decline, and cardiovascular disease all of which represent increased risk factors for menopausal women (41).
A B complex supplement can help you to cover all of your B vitamin bases and ensure you are getting enough of them however testing may be necessary to determine your status and dose appropriately.
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