Nutritional requirements at each stage of life: How your body changes over time

By definition, vitamins are nutrients that are necessary at all stages of life because our body can’t make them. That said, it’s worth paying a little bit more attention to some micro (and macro) nutrients at different stages of life due to biological shifts that happen with age. Here’s a quick look at changing nutritional requirements by decade of life:

20s

An active lifestyle makes protein a priority. Lean animal protein and/or a plant-based protein supplement will check that box. It’s also time to think about prenatal nutrients, even if you aren’t thinking about kids yet. For both women and men, this means getting extra folate, calcium, and iron.

 

30s

The first signs of aging start to creep in. Keep fine lines at bay with nutrients that protect collagen, such as vitamin C, zinc, and biotin. Magnesium helps manage the stress that can come with a busy career and keeping up with kids. It also helps promote restful sleep when taken at night. Iodine is essential for the thyroid to maintain metabolism, which can start to slow down in this decade or after having kids.

 

40s

Energy starting to lag? B vitamins make a big difference in this department! The active – or cofactor – forms of B vitamins offer immediate, direct nutritional support, even for those with genetic differences that impair metabolism of standard B vitamins. Hormonal shifts for women and declining testosterone for men in this decade mean that vitamin E and omega-3 essential fatty acids are more important than ever.

 

50s

Preserving bone health becomes paramount for women, prostate health for men, and heart health for both women and men. Vitamins D and K2 are critical to address these concerns. Additional antioxidants, such as lycopene, lutein, and the mineral selenium also lend a helping hand. As a bonus, these nutrients will help preserve the health of the eye’s macula, which can start changing in this decade. At this stage, women should avoid added iron from supplements unless iron deficiency has been diagnosed by a blood test. A well-formulated multivitamin designed for women aged 50+ is iron free.

 

60s

Keep your arteries flexible and your joints moving easily with vitamin K2. Look for the MK-7 form of vitamin K2, which provides benefits even in small doses. Calcium comes into play if bone density is declining. Men benefit from equal amounts of magnesium and calcium, whereas a little extra calcium (2:1 ratio) provides a better balance of minerals for women.

Vitamin B12 is important for memory and nerve health, however absorption can be more challenging at this stage, making a supplement very useful. Check labels for methycobalamin, the most bioavailable form of B12.

 

Can’t be bothered keeping track of which nutrients to focus on at which stage of life? Look for a high-quality multivitamin and mineral supplement that is tailored to either men or women as well as stage of life, such as under or over the age of 50. The new generation of multis go beyond micronutrients to include targeted herbs such as saw palmetto for men’s health and additional free radical fighters, like alpha lipoic acid.