Supplements That Support Gut Health In Aging Women

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Key Points

  • Growing older isn't always fun, but taking active steps to maintain good health can make the process easier.

  • Proper gut health is vital to healthy aging, especially for women.

  • Critical nutrients help aging women maintain proper digestive health.

It's said that growing older isn't for sissies. You might say it takes "guts" — gut health, to be more precise.

While good digestive health is essential for everyone, it's especially critical for aging women. As you age, your digestive system experiences many changes, affecting how the body absorbs and processes nutrients. In this comprehensive article, you'll learn about the best nutrients and supplements to support your digestive health throughout aging.

Digestive Enzymes

Digestion is the body's natural process of breaking down food it consumes into the nutrients it uses for basic life functions and energy. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, digestive enzymes are "[p]roteins that your body makes to break down food and aid digestion."

There are three primary types of digestive enzymes:

  1. Protease: This enzyme breaks down proteins.

  2. Amylase: This enzyme digests carbohydrates

  3. Lipase: This enzyme metabolizes fats.

Enzyme production usually decreases as your body ages, resulting in compromised digestion.

Benefits for Digestion and Absorption

Digestive enzymes optimize the breakdown of food into smaller components that the body absorbs easier. This process not only improves digestion but also enhances the absorption of nutrients, alleviating discomfort caused by gas, bloating, and indigestion. In addition, some studies suggest that digestive enzymes can also improve symptoms of food intolerances.

Recommended Dosage and Sources

Before starting a digestive enzyme supplement, consult your healthcare professional to determine the appropriate dosage. Digestive enzyme supplements are available in various forms, including capsules, chewable tablets, and powders. Optimize efficiency by following the label's recommended daily dosage for each digestive enzyme supplement. It's generally best to start with a lower dose and gradually increase as needed.


Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate that passes through the body without breaking down into glucose like other carbohydrates. Getting enough fiber is vital to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Additionally, fiber-rich meals make you feel full longer, leading to less snacking between meals.

Types of Fiber

Fiber comes in two primary forms: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, forming a gel-like substance that slows digestion and regulates blood sugar. Insoluble fiber doesn't dissolve in water and adds bulk to your stool, which helps prevent constipation.

Benefits for Digestion and Gut Health

Consuming adequate fiber is essential. A diet rich in fiber helps:

  • Promote bowel regularity

  • Prevent constipation

  • Maintain overall gut health

  • Lower cholesterol levels

  • Aid in weight management

  • Reduce the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease

Furthermore, a high-fiber diet promotes the growth of healthy gut bacteria, which plays a critical role in digestion and immunity.

Recommended Daily Intake and Food Sources

Aging women should consume at least 21-25 grams of fiber daily. Whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables are all excellent sources of fiber. Try incorporating various foods into your diet to meet your daily fiber needs and support your digestive health.


Glutamine is an amino acid — a substance that forms the building block of proteins. It has many functions related to regular activity in the body. Glutamine supports the structure and function of your gut lining. Plus, your intestinal cells use glutamine as their primary fuel source, allowing them to repair and regenerate, essential for maintaining a healthy gut barrier.

Top Benefits

As you age, your body's capacity to synthesize glutamine decreases, potentially compromising intestinal health. Supplementing with glutamine promotes a healthy gut lining. Glutamine supplementation can also reduce inflammation associated with various digestive disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease and leaky gut syndrome. Glutamine might also boost your immune system and aid in muscle recovery.

Recommended Dosage and Sources

The recommended daily dosage of glutamine varies depending on individual needs, but 5-10 grams is generally ideal for improving intestinal health. Glutamine is available as a supplement as powders and capsules. Rich dietary sources of glutamine include poultry, fish, beef, dairy products, and certain plant-based foods such as beans and lentils.


Magnesium is a mineral that plays a role in many essential bodily activities. Magnesium supports many vital bodily functions. Magnesium is critical to digestive processes, including nutrient absorption, nerve and muscle function, and fluid balance. It also acts as a natural laxative, aiding bowel movement by relaxing the muscles in your intestinal tract and attracting water to your stool, making it easier to pass.

A magnesium deficiency can negatively impact digestive health, leading to constipation, abdominal cramping, and diminished nutrient absorption. Low magnesium levels can lead to developing chronic diseases and conditions over time.

Recommended Daily Intake

The recommended daily magnesium intake for aging women is 320 milligrams. Some of the best food sources include legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, leafy green vegetables, and dairy.

Magnesium supplements, such as magnesium citrate or magnesium oxide, are also available for those unable to meet their daily needs through diet alone.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are typically labeled as healthy fats and have many positive health benefits for the body. Omega 3s play a vital role in reducing inflammation in your body — including inflammation in your digestive tract. These anti-inflammatory properties alleviate symptoms associated with several gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and gastritis.

Beyond their anti-inflammatory effects, omega-3 fatty acids contribute to your overall gut health by improving intestinal permeability, promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, and regulating your immune system.

A healthy gut is critical to optimal digestion and nutrient absorption as you age.

Plant-Based Options

The recommended daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids for aging women is 1.1 grams. Some of the best sources of omega-3s include fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and fish oil supplements, but flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and algae-based supplements are excellent plant-based choices for helping meet your daily omega-3 needs.


Prebiotics are typically found in high-fiber foods. They provide "food" for the healthy bacteria in the human gut. Though often confused, prebiotics and probiotics serve distinct functions in supporting digestive health. Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that act as food for the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Probiotics are live microorganisms that directly contribute to a healthy gut flora balance. Both play significant roles in maintaining your digestive health as you age.

Prebiotics for Gut Health and Digestion

Prebiotics are essential for fostering the growth and activity of beneficial gut bacteria (microflora), which in turn aids digestion, strengthens your immune system, and enhances nutrient absorption.

Prebiotics can alleviate symptoms of various digestive disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. Consuming enough prebiotic-rich food may even reduce your risk of colon cancer.

Incorporate prebiotic-rich foods such as asparagus, bananas, garlic, onions, and whole grains into your diet. Prebiotic supplements are also available for those seeking additional support for their gut health.


Probiotics are live microorganisms that live within the human intestinal tract. These beneficial bacteria exist in healthy synergy within the human body, providing many benefits. Probiotics contribute to a healthy balance of gut flora. Imbalances in your gut flora can disrupt digestion, leading to gastrointestinal issues and increasing susceptibility to chronic disease.

Probiotics support your immune system and maintain digestion as you age. In July 2023, Sports Illustrated released its top probiotic supplements for women over 50.

Benefits of Probiotics

Regular probiotic consumption improves digestion, nutrient absorption, and bowel regularity while reducing bloating and gas. Additionally, probiotics support immune function, alleviate symptoms of various digestive disorders, and even improve mental health by facilitating the production of mood-regulating neurotransmitters.

Recommended Strains

The most effective probiotic strains for digestive health include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces boulardii. Add probiotic-rich foods, such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha, to your diet to support gut health. A daily probiotic supplement containing diverse strains can provide additional benefits.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that naturally occurs in some foods while added to others. It's also available as a dietary supplement. The body can synthesize vitamin D through UV exposure to the skin.

Vitamin D contributes to absorbing essential nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and phosphate, making it critical to digestive health. Vitamin D also regulates inflammation, maintains the integrity of your gut lining, and supports your immune system as you age.

Vitamin D Deficiency

A vitamin D deficiency can lead to impaired nutrient absorption, digestive disorders, and an increased risk of chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers. Ensuring optimal vitamin D levels is crucial for maintaining your digestive health and overall well-being.

Recommended Daily Intake

The recommended daily vitamin D intake for aging women is 600-800 IU, though individual needs may vary depending on factors such as sunlight exposure and existing blood levels. Natural dietary sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified products such as milk and orange juice.

Supplementation with vitamin D3 is a popular option for those unable to meet their needs through diet and sunlight exposure.

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Healthy Aging Requires a Healthy Gut

As you age, prioritize your digestive health and work hard at meeting your nutritional needs. Incorporating the nutrients and supplements discussed in this articledigestive enzymes, fiber, glutamine, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, prebiotics, probiotics, and vitamin D — can help maintain a healthy digestive system.

Consult your doctor before starting a new supplement regimen; they can determine what essential nutrients might be lacking in your diet and help you develop a personalized nutrition plan. Your physician can also recommend the best supplements for your individualized needs as you age.

Looking for more expert advice on issues related to women's health, including nutrition, proper supplementation, and skincare? Subscribe to Age Defying!

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