The inevitability of aging can be met with fear and uncertainty, but it does not have to be this way. Maturing both in cognitive thought and in our physical appearance in a healthy, graceful way is key, as we want to not only feel good but also look good. Aging is a part of life, it is not something to fear, but to appreciate every moment and stage of our life, with grace.
It is known that after the age of 40, on average, that we need to support ourselves with specific nutrients in order to have robust health, with a side of spunk. This does not mean it is time to invest in copious bottles of nutritional supplementation, as nature provides us with all that we need to keep flourishing.
First I will discuss the nutrients that we need and how they support our well-being. I will discuss why obtaining these nutrients in pill form is not always ideal, and look at herbal preparations that make the nutrients quite easy to obtain. Lastly, I will cover how aromatherapy can support our skin and one of women’s most important body parts through our middle age and beyond. After all, complementary modalities look at the person as a whole, and both herbs and essential oils can assist us in varying ways to help us age gracefully.
Fundamental Nutrients for Over 40
B12 is one of the vital nutrients needed for both men and women. It is imperative for brain function as well as digestion and absorption of the nutrients that you consume on a day-to-day basis. This nutrient, as others is best consumed through living foods.
Edible algae is a great source of vitamin B12 (1). It is important to note that B12 is different from other types of B vitamins, it requires special circumstances to obtain maximum absorption therefore many are deficient in this vitamin, (be sure to do your research). Nori, kelp and spirulina are good choices of this vital water-soluble vitamin (2).
Obtaining appropriate levels of calcium is important for heart health for both postmenopausal and menopausal woman, and is key for strong bones (Vitamin D improves calcium absorption) (3).
Vitamin D supports a healthy immune system, and maintaining adequate levels is paramount for everyone. As mentioned above, Vitamin D is critical for the absorption of calcium.
Obtaining a little bit of good old’ fashioned sunlight is recommended. Not much is needed, about 10-15 minutes of sunshine without sunscreen is more than sufficient, and is the best way to obtain this fat-soluble vitamin (produced in the skin)(4). Just be sure to be responsible and protect your skin during peak times of the suns rays, 10am to 2pm.
Magnesium is responsible for the regulation of blood pressure and helps the body to absorb calcium; therefore, magnesium plays a role in muscle, nerve, and heart function/health (5).
Potassium helps to keep blood pressure in check and lowers risk of stroke (6). Potassium, magnesium, and calcium play an integral role when obtained together for numerous facets of our health, but it is important to keep a delicate balance of these and all minerals.
*As with anything in life, everyone is unique and will not require the same amounts of nutrients based on health conditions, medications, and more. It is important to always work with your medical doctor before beginning a new health protocol.
Pills are Not Always the Answer
As I mentioned above, buying expensive bottles of supplements is not the answer here, and the reasons are multi-faceted.
*Cost of supplements are quite high, especially the whole food variety. This is due to the fact that it is a higher quality vitamin, as well as the serving size of 3 or 4 pills a day compared to 1 from an average vitamin.
*Value and purity. We must always use caution when purchasing vitamins in pill form. Be sure that you are in the know when it comes to reading labels. There can be ingredients in the bottle that you would never want to ingest, nor pay for. I am talking about ingredients such as lead, mercury, artificial colors and more (7).
*You can obtain much more in a pill than is needed on a daily basis, sometimes the label can state as much as 200% of your daily requirement or more of a specific nutrient. This does not, however, mean that your body is absorbing this much, nor is it healthy to do so. You can read more about this phenomenon and more here (8).
*Absorption of these nutrients can be questionable for some. Why is this? Oftentimes, the nutrients found in the bottle are what are considered synthetic, or made in a lab rather than grown in the ground (whole food based). This can mean that it is a foreign substance to your body. On the flip side, if you had a vitamin that was truly all natural whole food-derived ingredients, you would need to take 4 pills or more daily in order to obtain a serving size (9). This contributes to much higher costs.
So, for these reasons and more, enter bountiful nutrition, grown and cared for with love and care, in the earth.
Herbs, fruits, and vegetables grown in fertile, and preferably organically enriched soil is the clear answer. As a gardener and lover of the earth, it is important to note that when we take loving care of not only the plant parts that we see above the ground, but recognize that the dirt needs to be cultivated and enriched, the benefit is a much more nutrient dense plant. Let’s focus on herbs next.
The beauty of herbs is the nutrition and wisdom in which they contain. Unlike essential oils which contain no nutrients of any kind, herbs contain a plethora of goodness, yet in many circles are very underutilized. When we look at holistic health as a whole, obtaining true nutrition as a means to be healthy, strong, and preserve vitality is something that needs more focus. There are many herbs that we can highlight here, let’s look at a few of them and how we can incorporate them into our lives.
Alfalfa you say? It is not one of the more common herbs on the supermarket shelves, but is one that is so full of nutrition you may never need a conventional multi-vitamin ever again! (Yes, that powerful) Your thoughts may have gone to feeding cows, which used to be the food of choice for livestock before GMO corn became the norm; but it is very beneficial for us too!
You can purchase alfalfa seeds and sprout them yourself and add to salads, which would send the nutritional volume through the roof, or buy it in dried form from any reputable herbal shop. Alfalfa is a tad bitter and earthy in its dried form, and is considered cooling to our chi.
I am going to focus on the nutrition from the sprouted seed here. Sprouting seeds is super easy and cheap, and a lot of fun for kids too as they watch them grow!
Not only is alfalfa sprouts rich in various vitamins such as A, B, C, and K, as well as minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium and zinc…let’s talk protein and amino acids! Are you a vegetarian or vegan? Sprouts are going to be awesome for you! Yes, you can obtain plenty of plant based protein via sprouts, and lessen the impact on the planet by reducing meat consumption. Win win!
Once you get into sprouting, you may find it addicting and the plastic (or metal) growers taking over your kitchen countertops (don’t say I didn’t warn you). Take a peek a this site that supplies you with everything you need to get started. What are my favorites? Alfalfa, broccoli, and the micro green kits. Have fun!
Parsley became a big part of my day-to-day during my struggles with my adrenal glands. I would simply buy large handfuls of the fresh herb and steep in water on my stovetop. I would then drink the parsley water throughout the day. Considered an adrenal tonic, parsley is my go to whenever I need a pick me up….or I want to avoid a sit me down, as in “I am just too tired” (10).
Smoothie drinker? Add a handful of raw parsley as your greens to your daily smoothie (the benefits are endless). You can even blend it straight with water as my friend and colleague Jennifer Jeffries does and she talks about here in a live video here (11).
Here is another great resource on parsley.
This plant is not one that you would want to touch with bare hands in its fresh form, but it is a great herb to incorporate into your day-to-day. What is so special about nettle? Rich in vitamin A, B6, K, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, stinging nettles is an herb that should be in your cup or on your plate (11).
If you enjoy making your own herbal tea blends, a great blend here would be equal parts of:
Peppermint or Spearmint
If you are fortunate enough to have the plant growing in your garden, cooking the leaves lightly will provide superior nutrition and taste similar to spinach. Stinging nettle leaves can then be added to a warming winter soup. Yum!
As you can now see, unlike essential oils, which provide no nutritional benefits at all, their herbal counterparts are champions! Moving on to essential oils and carrier oils, as they can provide benefits to our skin as we age. Below is two of my favorite blends.
To give credit where it is due, I began using Robert Tisserand’s breast oil, as his recommendations were based on science (the best kind of recommendations). Breast health should be of great importance to every aging woman, and prevention, rather than treatment is where we should be placing our focus. Here is a link to the background and research behind his recommendations (12). This recipe has evolved over the years for me, this is what I now use:
Breast Health Formulation
1.5 oz Pomegranate carrier oil
1 oz Rosehip Seed carrier oil
*Currently, Rosehip Seed carrier oil may be difficult to source, you can replace with another carrier of your choice
3 mls Pomegranate seed CO2
3 mls Sea Buckthorn Berry CO2
3 mls Rosehip CO2 (optional)
(you can purchase the CO2’s here)
Essential Oils (approx.. a 1% dilution)
10 drops Lemon Citrus limon
5 drops Bergamot Citrus bergamia
6 drops Copaiba Copaifera officinalis
3 drops Palmarosa Cymbopogon martinii var motia
3 drops Cedarwood Cedrus atlantica
Truth be told, I have been using oil on my breasts for health long before Robert shared his first blend recommendation. Another shout out goes to my friend that I met years ago at a women’s retreat at an ashram in Texas. Her name is Sunny Andrew Markham, and her company is “Earthsong”. She is a huge advocate for breast health and daily breast self-care. When I first learned of her oil, she stated that we all take care of our teeth and our hair etc., where is the love for our breasts! Therefore, she advocates for daily breast massage for their health, and yours (13).
* Follow the link below to her site (Earthsong) to learn about her recommendations.
*It is important to note if you begin to perform the daily breast massage per Earthsong’s recommendations (covering all lymph tissue) you need to be cautious exposing that skin to the sun due to the photosensitizing effects of both Bergamot and Lemon essential oil.
In addition to our breasts, taking care of our face, neck, and chest is important for the natural aging process. I began making my own facial serum right around the age of 30 as I have MANY freckles and want to avoid the impending age spots that may be inevitable for my future. I also want to keep my skin supple throughout the winter months when skin tends to become dry. Here is my recommendation for a skin serum that I guarantee you will love!
Formulation (2oz glass bottle-1% dilution)
½ oz Rosehip Seed carrier oil (Needed for the vitamin C)
½ oz Sunflower carrier oil OR
½ oz Calendula infused sunflower carrier oil
*It is really worth the extra effort to infuse dried calendula in a sunflower or apricot carrier oil. If you have the warm summer sun great! If not, you can use your crockpot on warm. Read more about infusing herbs/flowers here.
½ oz Evening Primrose carrier oil
5 drops pure vitamin E
3 drops German Chamomile CO2 Total (Read more about the reasoning behind this recommendation and for purchase here)
*Can replace the CO2 with the essential oil if necessary
3 drops Frankincense Boswellia frereana
Experiment to see when the best time of day is for application for you. I tend to lean toward dry skin so using in the morning makes my skin happy all day. If you tend to have oily skin, a nighttime application may suit you better.
One thing is for sure, there are many things that we can do to support our body through the natural aging process, but the best weapon we have are our thoughts and our internal dialogue. The more you realize that aging is a natural part of life, and the more you work to support it, not fight it…the happier you will be. Enjoy every stage. To your health!
(1) Vitamin B12-Containing Plant Food Sources for Vegetarians. 2014 May; 6(5): 1861–1873. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4042564/
(2) B12 in seaweed. Retrieved from http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/b12-seaweed-11661.html
(3) Vitamin D. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/
(4) Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3356951/
(5) Magnesium. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
(6) Potassium. Retrieved from http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/potassium
(7) Yigzaw, E. (2016) 5 DANGEROUS INGREDIENTS IN YOUR VITAMINS AND DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS. Retrieved from http://info.achs.edu/blog/5-dangerous-ingredients-in-your-vitamins-and-dietary-supplements
(8) (9) Multivitamin/mineral Supplements. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/MVMS-HealthProfessional/
(10) Mateljan, G. (2007). The worlds healthiest foods: essential guide for the healthiest way of eating. Seattle, WA: George Mateljan Foundation.
(11) Stinging Nettles. Retrieved from https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Stinging_Nettles,_blanched_(Northern_Plains_Indians)_nutritional_value.html
(12) Tisserand, R. (2015) Citrus Oils and Breast Health. Retrieved from http://tisserandinstitute.org/citrus-oils-and-breast-health/
(13) Earthsong, pomegranate breast oil. Retrieved from https://pomegranatebreastoil.com/
Like so many practices in life, I encourage you to become educated on the proper use of essential oils. When using them, please do so cautiously, understanding that there is often misinformation on the internet. You can be assured that I support only educated and proven resources. While essential oils should not be feared they should be respected and used properly to ensure the safety of the individuals using them.
Please note that I am not a medical practitioner. The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. By using this website, you assume full responsibility and liability for your own actions.