When it comes to vitamins and minerals, women’s needs are different from those of men. Pregnancy, a woman’s reproductive cycle, and aging place different demands on her body. Ideally, one gets these nutrients through a healthy diet, but in this age of fast food and hectic schedules, many women need supplements.
Women’s nutritional needs vary substantially with age. Many of these needs are the direct result of hormone changes, and some are due to general aging. Supplemental nutrition for women is most effective when based upon a women’s natural four-week menstrual cycle. Here is a brief summary of what happens as you age and pass through menstrual cycles, and nutritional supplements that can help you live a healthier life.
Twenties Hormones are at peak levels preparing for pregnancy. Metabolism is at its peak while your body continues to add both fat and muscle. Skin is in its prime with plenty of collagen and elastin. Now is the time to build habits of regular exercise and healthy eating with whole grain foods and vegetables.
Regular exercise that stresses the bones plus calcium supplements can help add mass to bones. More mass now means reduced risk of osteoporosis later in life when bone mass is difficult to maintain.
A program for women in their twenties and thirties includes managing hormones and supporting the immune system. The first two weeks of the menstrual cycle should include Dong Quai and Red Raspberry Leaf to help balance hormones and build blood. During week three, take Astragalus and Ginseng to help the bodies immune system. During week four, Echinacea and Goldenseal will help with their anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Thirties Levels of estrogen and progesterone begin falling with gradually declining fertility. Lean muscle tissue begins to decrease as metabolism slows. Skin begins to wrinkle around the eyes and mouth as collagen and elastin levels begin to drop off. Nutrition needs now include calcium to help maintain bone density, Folic Acid to help prevent heart disease, and Iron for improving energy by increasing the oxygen carrying capacity of blood.
Forties Fertility and hormones drop sharply. During perimenopause, periods become erratic, and you may experience hot flashes and dizziness. Metabolic rates now drop off at about 4 to 5 percent each remaining decade, so keeping weight under control becomes harder. Skin gets more wrinkled and loose as collagen production continues to slow. Nutrition needs include increased levels of Vitamin B6 and 5HTP to help maintain serotonin levels to help balance mood. Vitamin E, an antioxidant and Soy, a plant with estrogen-like properties (phyto-estrogen) can help minimize hot flashes. Flaxseed and Evening Primrose contain essential fatty acids to help manage menstrual bleeding and alleviate breast tenderness.
Fifties Menopause hits at an average age of 51, dropping estrogen levels as much as 75%. Your pituitary glands produce more LH and FSH hormones causing hot flashes and mood swings in some women. Metabolism continues to slow and skin becomes thinner. 5HTP and Vitamin B6 supplementation levels may need to be increased to help keep serotonin levels up. Bone density can begin to decline rapidly but, calcium supplements and weight bearing exercise can help minimize loss. Mood swings are likely to be much worse, but keeping serotonin levels up and management with either St John’s Wort or Kava-Kava as a natural anti-depressants can be very effective. Estrogen and Progesterone balancing can be managed with phytoestrogens like Black Cohosh and Dong Quai to help reduce painful periods and hot flashes.
Sixties The balance between female estrogens and male androgens shifts causing thinning hair on your head and darkening hair on your body. Weight gain slows but body fat may continue to increase which in turn increases risks of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. Skin cells become irregular with thinning in some areas and clumping to form “liver spots”. Osteoporosis will effect one in four of women 60 and over. It is important to maintain the weight bearing exercises that you started in your thirties as well as continuing supplementing calcium intake to prevent hip and spine fractures. Vitamin D and Vitamin C can also help bones absorb calcium and Vitamin C can help prevent cataracts. Phyto-estrogens or estrogen replacement therapy can help prevent bone loss plus reduce risks of Alzheimer’s. Management of blood pressure and cholesterol levels can be managed with garlic and CoQ10 supplements.
Seventies The pineal gland now produces much less melatonin, the hormone that governs your bodies natural sleep cycle. Melatonin supplements just before going to bed can help you get restful sleep. Metabolism continues to slow, but you may lose weight as your appetite also decreases. Multivitamins can help maintain general nutrition levels and help prevent continued bone loss. Moderate exercise becomes increasingly important to help reduce bone loss. Flexibility and coordination improving exercises become increasingly important to minimize the effects of arthritis and help maintain balance to help avoid falls.