While a healthy, well-rounded diet should give us the nutrition we need, dietary supplements can help us get the right amount of specific, essential nutrients. As we age, here are the six powerful vitamins you should consider taking:
Research has not definitively proven that multi-vitamins help you stay healthier longer, but they do fill in the nutrient gaps that we might not even be aware of in our daily routine. Make sure to choose a multi-vitamin for seniors. A few well-tested ones are:
Vitamin D, made by the body from sunshine, is critical to our health because it is needed to absorb calcium. It helps bone health and reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke, asthma, and inflammation, along with a host of other ailments, making vitamin D a very powerful vitamin.
Inadequate vitamin D levels cause the body to start taking calcium from our bones, weakening them and affecting future bone development. And because bone loss accelerates with the loss of estrogen as women age, women are even more vulnerable to vitamin D deficiencies.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommendation is 600 IU (international unit) of vitamin D for adults over age 50, going to 800 IU for age 70+. Research is now showing that having vitamin K2 along with vitamin D is beneficial for helping the calcifications of our bones but not soft organs. Good food sources include tuna, mackerel, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, and vitamin D-fortified milk.
An essential nutrient in helping keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy as well as helping make DNA, vitamin B12 is vital for maintaining the energy needed for our active lifestyles. And B12 reduces the risk of heart disease by dampening homocysteine levels. Even minor deficiencies may put us at risk for cognitive decline.
Increasing age makes it harder to absorb the nutrient from food which taking supplements can solve. Supplements should provide at least 2.4 micrograms daily. Good food sources of vitamin B12 are whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fortified cereals, meats, low-fat dairy, and fish.
Your entire skeleton is replaced about every ten years by your body reabsorbing old bone while creating new. If you don’t get enough calcium in your diet or absorb it properly, you may not have enough healthy new bone. In general, bone density decreases with age, especially for women, making us more vulnerable to injuries. Calcium is a potent vitamin that is also necessary for good heart, muscle, and nerve health.
Highly absorbable calcium citrate is the best supplement choice, but also make sure to get the right amount of vitamin D, which aids in calcium absorption. Stick with the recommended daily allowance (1200 mg) as too much calcium has been shown to increase stroke risk and kidney stones. Calcium is a bulky supplement and is generally not found in sufficient quantities in multi-vitamins. Food high in calcium includes dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese, as well as kale, collard greens, almonds, sardines, edamame, and tofu.
Comprised of two essential fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids, omega-3 acids are crucial for maintaining health as we age. So much so that a European study found that if everyone over 55 took 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acid daily, Europe would save 15 million dollars in healthcare costs.
Impact of omega-3 fatty acids are:
Inflammation and blood sugar levels will be kept in check with these acids.
Foods such as salmon, tuna, krill, flax seeds, walnuts, and edamame give us these essential acids. A popular supplement to get more of these acids is fish oil or krill oil. The recommended dosage is 1000 mg of both EPA and DHA daily. Know that the unpleasant side effect of ‘fish burps’ is common, so look for one that minimizes this effect.
As we age, the body’s production of CoQ10 declines. This is a vital enzyme for converting food into energy and a key to heart health.
Good sources are meats and fish, so strict vegetarians need to watch their intake. But soybean and canola oils also provide this enzyme. Supplements come in two forms, ubiquinol, and ubiquinone. Ubiquinol is the form most beneficial for us as we age. The average recommended dosage is 100 mg daily, best absorbed with meals, and look for oil-based soft gel caps.
While food is the best nutritional source available to us, it can be hard to get an adequate amount of the vitamins and minerals needed to thrive. So, here’s to not only eating right but also getting all the vitamins you need for your health!