Health

Health-boosting supplements for every decade

Masterfile

A mixture of the correct supplements, proper nutrition and regular resistance training will help you stay sharp — and slim — through the years. Not only will this combo leave you looking younger, you will also reduce the chance of developing major health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or Alzheimer’s. In fact, if taking just vitamin C and E daily may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, wouldn’t it be worth the effort to stock your supplement cupboard in order to look and feel younger, longer?

The basics
I recommend a simple plan for everyone that includes the following ingredients:

  • A high quality multivitamin
  • Pharmaceutical-grade fish oils
  • A mixed vitamin E (mixed vitamin E contains all eight types of vitamin E, whereas most just contain alpha tocopherol)
  • A calcium-magnesium supplement in a citrate base with vitamin D3 (the citrate form is most absorbable)
  • Vitamin C with bioflavonoids (bioflavonoids increase the activity of vitamin C in the body) and perhaps a capsule of grapeseed extract
  • Acidophilus pills to restore healthy gut balance, immunity, wellness, aid digestion overall health

Supplements for your 20s and 30s
Women aged 20 to 40 need a minimum of 400 mcg of folic acid daily, to assist in the prevention of birth defects and to replace depletions caused by using the birth-control pill. Women in this age group may want to take extra B vitamins in addition to their multivitamin, for stress and energy support, and should take in 850–1200 mg of calcium daily.

Supplements for your 40s
Soy isoflavones from the diet or supplements can be useful for hormonal balance in women at this age. Women in their 30s and 40s may begin to have difficulty with PMS and could benefit from extra vitamin B6, magnesium and evening primrose oil for assistance with hormone-related symptoms. Remember that PMS is a sign of hormonal imbalance, and leaving it unattended could result in a difficult menopause and increase the risk of further health complaints later on.

I find that patients at this stage of life feel the effects of stress more acutely, making more vitamin C and B5 necessary. I would also recommend the addition of an herbal combination periodically for adrenals (our stress glands) to help recuperation of energy levels.

By age 40, if not sooner, we should adopt tactics to prevent heart disease and diabetes. We can do this by upping the intake of fish oils (2–4 grams/day — may also be useful for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease) and adding coenzyme Q10 (an antioxidant that is naturally high in the heart muscle but tends to decline with age). Be sure to continue taking vitamins E and C for healthy arteries, potassium for stroke prevention and a B complex for safe levels of homocysteine (a type of protein which, if elevated above seven, is a risk factor for stroke, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and osteoporosis).

For the prevention of type-2 diabetes, consider chromium and conjugated linoleic acid (a fatty acid supplement that helps to improve the body’s response to insulin) and/or alpha lipoic acid, the antioxidant which aids insulin response.

If cost is not an issue, N-acetyl cysteine, a precursor to the antioxidant glutathione, is also a great supplement to consider at any age for brain health, lung health and cancer protection. Finally, lutein, an antioxidant specifically for protection of the eyes, can be added to your daily plan at this stage to reduce the risk of cataracts.

Supplements for your 50s and beyond
Weight-bearing exercise and calcium (1200–1500 mg per day) are a must for osteoporosis prevention at this point, along with boron (3 mg), vitamin K, magnesium, phosphorous and vitamin D (600–1,000 IU per day). Vitamin D is also important for minimizing arthritis, seasonal depression and perhaps certain types of cancers.

For joint health, I recommend MSM (rather than glucosamine sulfate) as a source of sulfur for collagen repair and the reduction of pain and inflammation. Some studies suggest that glucosamine may increase the risk of insulin resistance in certain people, a condition involved in the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Along with doing a daily crossword, taking phosphatidylcholine may prevent cognitive decline. Iron becomes less important for women at this age, but vitamin B12 status should be monitored. Levels of hydrocholoric acid in the stomach deplete with age, especially in women, potentially leading to malabsorption of vitamins and minerals. An HCL supplement may prevent deficiencies and maximize absorption of foods and nutrients.

Putting it all together
Beginning a supplement program can be daunting. I recommend that you spend your money wisely and consult a professional. Don’t waste time and money taking the wrong products, in the wrong amounts and, most likely, in the wrong combinations.