To write this blog, I had to go poking around my own website to make sure I hadn’t written about it before. I feel like I answer this question all the time. Luckily, I haven’t! So, I’m happy to answer one of the questions I get most often about women’s physical health at mid-life: do I need to take a vitamin?
The answer is: YES.
Yep, you totally need to take a vitamin at this stage in life. Here’s why:
- Our food supply is created from soil that is woefully lacking in nutrients. And if the nutrients aren’t in the dirt, they won’t be in the food, either. (If you’d like me to get into the science, please email me.) What it comes down to is the fact that growing the same crops on the same land, year after year, reduces the nutrients in those foods produced on that land. So, you need a vitamin to replace those vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that once existed in those foods.
- You may be absorbing food less efficiently than when you were younger. This is not always the case, but reduced absorption is a possibility at mid-life (especially with some medications). This means you’re not getting all the good stuff out of what you eat. Multi-vitamins even this problem out.
- Stress and other emotional states can reduce the availability of certain nutrients. For instance, if you’re on the The Pill, you are probably deficient in B vitamins. B vitamins are leached out of your system when you’re on The Pill. As well, when you get stressed out, your body dumps magnesium (a relaxing agent, among other things).
I think that a good multi-vitamin at mid-life is a pretty necessary thing. It not only gives us what food doesn’t, it can also replace vitamins and nutrients that leach out simply because of life.
I know you’re wondering: what kind of multi-vitamin do I take?
The easy answer is a strange one: pre-natal vitamins.
Pre-natal vitamins have the minimum of everything you need, and nothing more. That makes them the safest. So, I recommend starting there.
You can certainly take the “Vitamin Silver” or “Vitamin for Aging Ladies”- those are generally fine, too. But if you want to play it safe and get your basics met, a pre-natal vitamin is all you need.
There are two things I’d like to caution you about, though.
One is talc. Talc (like, talcum powder. Yes, the stuff we used to put on baby butts.) is sometimes used as a binder- to hold all the little bits of vitamins and nutrients together. But no one really knows what talc does in the human system. It’s worth staying away from, especially if you take any other medications.
The other is inositol. This is something newly added to a lot of ‘holistic’ vitamins I see. And it is intended to help with insulin resistance (which I know a lot of women develop through mid-life and into post-menopause). But, again, nobody really knows what it does and the evidence is not that great. In my case, it actually makes my insulin resistance increase (which sucks as a diabetic). I would avoid it, if possible.
Multi-vitamins at mid-life are pretty much necessary. If you’re not taking one, and you start, you may notice that you feel livelier, your hair and skin may grow better or clear up, and you may feel more alert and calm. Yes! All that from a vitamin.
And remember that while pre-natal vitamins are fine, you probably need to let your significant other know you’re not trying to get pregnant. Unless you are…but that’s another blog post entirely.