Whether you still plan to have kids or want to lower your risk of certain age-related conditions, focus on getting certain vitamins after age 40. Vitamins E and C aid in fertility, while vitamin D and the B vitamins are essential for heart health, brain functions and vision. Ideally you should get the vitamins you need from your diet and not rely too much on supplements. Over-the-counter supplements tend to be harmless if taken correctly, but check with your doctor to be sure you’re getting the right dosage.
Vitamin E is essential for sperm health, which can be problematic as you get older. This antioxidant vitamin safeguards cell membranes against damage from reactive free radicals. Otherwise, those free radicals damage cells throughout your body, including sperm cells. In a 2011 report published in the “International Journal of General Medicine,” researchers gave details on a study including infertile men. They found that those who took 400 international units of vitamin E each day, alongside 200 micrograms of selenium, for at least 100 days, had healthier sperm. These participants had sperm that showed improved motility or shape. Plus nearly 11 percent of the participants were able to conceive a child after the vitamin and mineral treatment. Get more sperm-protecting vitamin E in your diet by eating more nuts and seeds.
If you’re still planning to expand your family after you turn 40, consider taking vitamin C. Just like vitamin E, vitamin C protects cells from free radicals. In 2012, researchers evaluated vitamin C and its effects on sperm and published their findings in the “Fertility and Sterility” journal. They found that participants over age 44, who had the highest average intakes of vitamin C, had about a 20 percent lower risk of sperm DNA damage than older men with lower intakes. This is why it's critical to at least meet your daily vitamin C recommendation of 90 milligrams a day. The recommendation goes up to 120 milligrams a day if you smoke. Fresh produce, particularly oranges, strawberries, broccoli and bell peppers, are full of vitamin C.
A 2011 study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” showed a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease among men who consumed vitamin D. After analyzing data from both men and women gathered over 22 years, researchers found that men who had higher vitamin D intakes -- greater than 600 international units a day -- were less likely to have cardiovascular disease. Vitamin D intakes included both food and supplement sources. Researchers noted that this health benefit was not observed in women. To get more vitamin D, have sardines, swordfish, salmon, tuna, fortified milk or fortified orange juice.
An adequate intake of the B vitamins, particularly folate, B-6 and B-12, can preserve your eye health. A 2005 study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” reported that adults, including men age 40 and older, who had enough of these vitamins in their systems, had decreased homocysteine levels. This naturally-occurring chemical increases your risk of chronic conditions as levels go up. Researchers reported that participants with lower homocysteine levels had a decreased risk of cognitive decline and memory loss. Additionally, folate’s role in lowering homocysteine can lessen your chances of getting glaucoma, but it should come from a supplement for maximum protection. To meet the recommendations, take 1.3 to 1.5 milligrams of B-6, 2.4 micrograms of B-12 and 400 micrograms of folate daily. Fortified breakfast cereals, nuts, seeds, eggs, meat, poultry and pork, are some sources of B vitamins.
- Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine: Recommended Dietary Allowances and Adequate Intakes, Vitamins
- International Journal of General Medicine: Selenium–Vitamin E Supplementation in Infertile Men: Effects on Semen Parameters and Pregnancy Rate
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Vitamin D Intake and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in US Men and Women
- Fertility and Sterility: Micronutrients Intake is Associated with Improved Sperm DNA Quality in Older Men
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: High Homocysteine and Low B Vitamins Predict Cognitive Decline in Aging Men: The Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study
- JAMA Ophthalmology: A Prospective Study of Folate, Vitamin B₆, and Vitamin B₁₂ Intake in Relation to Exfoliation Glaucoma or Suspected Exfoliation Glaucoma
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin C
- Better Health Channel: Vitamin B