As we age, our bodies undergo several changes, and maintaining optimal health becomes increasingly important. One way to support healthy ageing is through the use of dietary supplements. However, with so many options available, it can be challenging to determine which ones are worth taking. In this blog post, we'll explore the best supplements for healthy ageing, discuss their benefits, and delve into the science behind them.
Are Supplements Necessary?
First things first, let's address the question: are supplements truly necessary? The truth is that while a well-balanced diet should ideally provide all the nutrients our bodies need, there are certain factors that can make supplementation beneficial . Ageing can result in reduced nutrient absorption, and certain medications or health conditions may also contribute to nutritional deficiencies .
Furthermore, some nutrients may be difficult to obtain in adequate amounts through diet alone. For example, vitamin D, which is essential for bone health, is primarily obtained through sun exposure and is found in only a few food sources . In such cases, supplements can help fill in the gaps and support overall health.
However, it is essential to approach supplementation with caution, as excessive intake of some vitamins and minerals can be harmful. Always consult with a healthcare professional before beginning a new supplement regimen.
Top 10 Supplements for Healthy Ageing
Collagen is a critical component of our skin, responsible for maintaining its elasticity and hydration . With time, collagen production declines, leading to wrinkles and sagging skin. Collagen supplements, usually in the form of hydrolyzed collagen, can help counteract these effects by improving skin hydration and elasticity . To choose a high-quality collagen supplement, opt for one with a low molecular weight, which indicates better absorption, and look for third-party testing to ensure purity and potency. The recommended dosage varies depending on the product, but 10-15 grams per day is a common recommendation.
CoQ10 is a vital antioxidant involved in cellular energy production . Its levels naturally decrease over time, contributing to fatigue and reduced cognitive function. CoQ10 supplementation has been shown to support heart health and combat age-related cognitive decline. Choose a supplement containing ubiquinol, the active form of CoQ10, which is more readily absorbed and utilized by the body. The recommended dosage ranges from 100-200 mg per day.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s are well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties and heart health benefits . They have also been linked to improved cognitive function and reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration. When selecting an omega-3 supplement, opt for one sourced from wild-caught fish or algae, and ensure it contains both EPA and DHA, the two most beneficial types of omega-3 fatty acids. It is also important to look for third-party testing for purity and potency. The recommended dosage varies, but a general guideline is 250-500 mg of combined EPA and DHA per day.
Our gut microbiome changes as we grow older, potentially impacting digestion and overall health . Probiotic supplements containing beneficial bacteria can support a healthy gut microbiome, improving digestion and immune function. Choose a probiotic supplement with a variety of strains and a high CFU (colony-forming unit) count, ideally at least 10 billion CFUs per serving.
Vitamin D is essential for bone health, and deficiency is common, especially among older adults . Supplementing with vitamin D can help maintain strong bones and may even reduce the risk of falls in older individuals . Choose a vitamin D3 supplement, as it is more easily absorbed than vitamin D2, and aim for a daily intake of 10-20 micrograms (400-800 IU) for adults, though individual needs may vary.
B vitamins, such as B6, B12, and folic acid, play crucial roles in maintaining cognitive function and heart health . Supplementation can be especially important for older individuals, who may have difficulty absorbing these nutrients from food sources . Look for a B-complex supplement that contains the active forms of the vitamins, such as methylcobalamin for B12 and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate for folic acid. Dosages vary for each B vitamin, so follow the product label or consult with a healthcare professional.
This herbal supplement is often recommended as a natural remedy for menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes and mood swings . While research on the benefits of black cohosh is still inconclusive, some studies suggest that black cohosh may be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of hot flashes . Opt for a supplement with a standardized extract of black cohosh, and follow the manufacturer's recommended dosage, which is typically around 40-80 mg per day.
This active compound found in turmeric has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties . It has been studied for its potential benefits in supporting brain health, reducing joint pain, and promoting overall longevity . When selecting a curcumin supplement, look for one that includes black pepper extract (piperine) or is formulated with enhanced bioavailability, as curcumin is poorly absorbed on its own. The recommended dosage typically ranges from 500-1,000 mg per day.
Magnesium plays a vital role in many bodily functions, including muscle and nerve function, blood pressure regulation, and energy production . As we age, magnesium absorption decreases, and deficiency becomes more common . Magnesium supplementation can help maintain healthy magnesium levels and support overall health. Choose a supplement with a highly absorbable form of magnesium, such as magnesium glycinate or magnesium citrate, and aim for a daily intake of 310-420 mg for adults, depending on age and sex.
Calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth, and its importance increases with age due to the natural decline in bone density . Calcium supplementation, especially when combined with vitamin D, can help maintain bone health and reduce the risk of fractures . Look for a supplement that contains calcium citrate or calcium carbonate, as these are more easily absorbed by the body. The recommended daily intake of calcium for adults is 1,000-1,200 mg, depending on age and sex.
Choosing the Right Supplements for You
With so many supplements on the market, finding the right one for your needs can be overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you navigate the world of dietary supplements and make informed choices:
- Consult with a healthcare professional: Before starting any new supplement regimen, it's essential to discuss your needs and goals with a qualified healthcare professional. They can help assess your health status, consider any medications you may be taking, and provide personalised recommendations.
- Look for third-party testing: To ensure you're getting a high-quality supplement, look for products that have undergone third-party testing. This means that an independent laboratory has verified the product's purity, potency, and quality. Reputable third-party certifications include USP (United States Pharmacopeia), NSF International, and ConsumerLab.
- Choose bioavailable forms: Some nutrients are available in multiple forms, and not all forms are created equal. Bioavailability refers to the degree and rate at which a substance, such as a nutrient, is absorbed and utilized by the body.
When selecting supplements, it's essential to choose those that contain bioavailable forms of the nutrients to ensure maximum effectiveness. For example, when choosing a vitamin B12 supplement, look for methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin, which are active forms, instead of cyanocobalamin, which is a synthetic, less bioavailable form.
- Check the label for serving size and dosage: The label should clearly indicate the serving size and the amount of each nutrient per serving. Be sure to compare these amounts to the recommended daily intake for your age and sex, and adjust your dosage accordingly.
- Opt for reputable manufacturers: Choose products from well-established and reputable supplement manufacturers that are known for their quality and transparency. Look for companies that provide detailed information about their sourcing, manufacturing processes, and quality control measures.
- Pay attention to potential allergens and additives: Some supplements may contain allergens, such as gluten or soy, or include artificial additives, like colours or flavours. If you have any sensitivities or preferences, read the label carefully to ensure the product meets your needs.
By following these tips and prioritising quality and safety, you can feel confident in your supplement choices and support your health throughout the ageing process.