Dietary Supplements for Women Over 60
A trip to the vitamin shop can be overwhelming and expensive. There are so many claims and choices, that it’s difficult to know what to do. This list of six essential supplements for the woman over 60 sticks to the basics, focusing on our lovely bones, big hearts, and sharp minds. Of course, nothing here is medical advice, but, we hope it gives you something to think about and discuss with your doctor. Here are a few dietary supplements for women over 60 to consider:
Women have been told for ages that we need calcium supplements after menopause to protect us from osteoporosis, but new research shows that we may already be getting enough from our diets. Creighton University professor Robert Heaney, MD, an expert on vitamin D and calcium, says, “The body needs both calcium and protein for bone health, so the ideal source of calcium is dairy products, not supplements.”
The problem isn’t calcium necessarily deficiency; it’s that we need a calcium delivery system that works. Vitamins D3, K2, and magnesium synergistically provide us a solution. This new information doesn’t diminish the importance of calcium to our bodies; it just means that eating a calcium-rich diet is a viable alternative to supplements if we improve how the body moves and absorbs calcium.
The Three Amigos – Vitamin D3, Vitamin K2, Magnesium
We chose the three amigos, because they pull double duty – strengthen our bones and protect our hearts – and because they play so well together. According to Dr. Kate Rheamue-Bleaue, ND, “If you take a calcium supplement, it’s important to maintain the proper balance between calcium, vitamin K2, vitamin D, and magnesium. Lack of balance between these nutrients is why calcium supplements have become associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke.”
Ironically, these three nutrients are the ones many women are deficient in, which is problematic if you’re taking calcium supplements. A bonus is that separately, each of these nutrient marvels brings a subset of other benefits to your body – particularly after age 60.
Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium and for processing it into the bone. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism confirms that over half the women involved in the treatment or prevention of osteoporosis are vitamin D deficient.
Dr. Roberta Lee, MD, at Beth Israel Medical Center tells us to ask our doctor for a simple blood test to rule out deficiency. If we are deficient, Dr. Lee says, “In truth, it’s hard to eat enough foods if you’re in a deficient state to actually make up for the loss.” Vitamin D3 also boosts immunity and aids in cell differentiation, which helps protect us from some cancers.
Vitamins D3 and K2 work together for your bones and heart. Vitamin D creates K2 dependent proteins that move calcium, and K2 activates those proteins. “The biological role of vitamin K2 is to help move calcium into the proper areas in your body, such as your bones and teeth. It also helps remove calcium from areas where it shouldn’t be, such as in your arteries and soft tissues,” says Dr. Kate, author of Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little-Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life.
Besides shuttling calcium, Vitamin K2 is important to the prevention of heart disease, heart attack and stroke, brain disease, and because it activates proteins that promote cell growth, it helps prevent cancer.
Like with vitamins D3 and K2, most people are magnesium deficient, which again is problematic if you take calcium supplements. Dr. Carolyn Dean explains from her book, The Magnesium Miracle that calcium and magnesium need to be in balance for muscles to be in a neutral state. “The heart is big muscle; magnesium relaxes muscles and calcium tightens muscles. If there is too much calcium and not enough magnesium, calcium tightens muscles including the heart, and that tightness can be angina and heart attack where the heart muscle goes into spasm. When muscles around the arteries tighten, it causes hypertension.”
Magnesium is also good for the brain because it balances serotonin. It supports adrenal glands, relaxes muscles, calms you for sleeping, and energizes you during the day. It’s responsible for running 325 enzyme systems in the body. It regulates the way the pancreas releases insulin and the way insulin takes blood sugars to the cells for nutrients, in essence regulating blood sugar levels.
If you’re feeling moody, anxious, or depressed, the culprit could be a shortage in B vitamins – particularly folic acid, B6, and B12, which are the most common deficiencies. As we age, it becomes more difficult for women to absorb B vitamins into our bodies from foods, so supplements become necessary. B vitamins are also critical to our hearth health. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, Micronutrient Information Center, “Vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid help keep homocysteine levels properly regulated, which reduces the risk of heart disease.”
Other bonuses to B vitamins include cell growth, healthy skin, increased metabolism, and better nervous system and immune function.
Ginko Biloba is an ancient Chinese herb with a long history of supporting the brain. The Aging and Memory Research Center at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute recently conducted a study that showed significant improvement in verbal recall among study participants with age-associated memory loss who took Ginko Biloba for six months.
Mayo Clinic studies confirm that early evidence shows Ginko can improve memory, help with aging eyes, and reduce organ damage from chemotherapy.
What’s your take on this? What other things do you do to stay healthy and active after 60? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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Explore this topic on a deeper level with these amazing books that we have hand-picked for you. Please check them out and let us know what you think!
Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever, by Ray Kurzweil
The Longevity Factor, by Joseph Maroon
Fish Oil: The Natural Anti-inflammatory, Joseph C. Maroon
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. Consult a doctor before doing anything described in this article.