We’ve all heard that 60 is the new 40—but like it or not, 60 is still 60 and, yes, 50 is still 50. As much as we might try to deny it, getting older does take its toll.
Over time, wear and tear damages your body’s 37 trillion cells, reducing how well they function. You can’t see these changes from one day to the next, but you definitely will from one decade to the next. Skin becomes less supple, bones get thinner, and disease risk increases. And then there’s that matter of where you left your keys.
Even though aging is inevitable, you can slow the process. Eating healthy foods, exercising, and managing stress are well-known tactics. And supplements can help you grow old gracefully too. We’ve winnowed down this book-worthy subject to a handful of age-related conditions and beneficial supplements.
Stamina naturally decreases as you get older, in part because aging reduces the activity of cells’ energy factories, called mitochondria. A variety of nutrients power these mitochondria; in particular, coenzyme Q10 (coQ10) and L-carnitine can help mitochondria maintain their oomph.
Dose: Start with 25–200 mg coQ10 daily, and add 1,000 mg L-carnitine daily, if needed.
Osteoporosis poses a serious risk for postmenopausal women. Although calcium is widely touted for maintaining strong bones, you need vitamin D to actually move the mineral into bone. And bones contain plenty of magnesium too, so be sure you’re getting enough.
Dose: 500 mg calcium as calcium citrate; 200–500 mg magnesium as magnesium citrate; 2,000–5,000 IU vitamin D daily.
Heart disease and stroke remain leading causes of premature death. Hundreds of studies support omega-3s’ heart benefits. Also, ample magnesium can reduce heart disease risk by 30 percent, according to a 2013 review. To battle heart failure, alternative-medicine doctors have long used coQ10; be sure to take under a practitioner’s guidance.
Dose: 1,000–2,000 mg EPA-DHA omega-3s daily; 200 mg magnesium as magnesium citrate twice daily; 300 mg coQ10 daily.
After age 60, your risk of sarcopenia (severe muscle loss) increases sharply, even if you exercise vigorously, increasing risk of frailty and falls. The branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), particularly L-leucine, have been shown to increase muscle. You also need vitamin D to make muscle, which holds your skeleton in place. Studies have found that supplements can reduce the likelihood of bone-breaking falls.
Dose: Follow label directions for BCAA use, or take 3 grams L-leucine daily; 2,000–5,000 IU vitamin D daily.
Aches and pains.
Curcumin (turmeric extract) may be the best-researched natural anti-inflammatory, blocking almost 100 biochemical pathways involved in inflammation. Vitamin D can help with low-back pain, possibly by increasing vertebrae and muscle strength. For osteoarthritis of the knees, glucosamine and chondroitin reduce pain; some studies even show a regeneration of cartilage pads—the knees’ shock absorbers.
Dose: 200–1,000 mg curcumin daily; 2,000–5,000 IU vitamin D daily; 1,500 mg glucosamine sulfate and 1,200 mg chondroitin sulfate daily.
None of these recommendations will do you much good if you can’t remember them. According to voluminous research, the best memory-enhancing nutrients may well be a combination of phosphatidylserine (PS) and omega-3s, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Dose: 100–300 mg PS daily; 1–2 grams DHA daily.
Remember: It’s always a good idea to talk to your health care provider before starting a new supplement.
Old friends: Trusty supplement picks
Carlson Phosphatidyl Serine. Each capsule contains 100 mg of soy-derived phosphatidylserine, a chemical complex needed by brain cells.
Natural Vitality Natural Calm Plus Calcium. This well-formulated powder (mix with water) contains 350 mg magnesium and 230 mg calcium per serving, plus vitamins C and D, potassium, and boron.
Solgar Ubiquinol. This type of coenzyme Q10 may be more potent than the more common ubiquinone. Sold in 100 mg and 200 mg potencies.
Terry Naturally CuraMed. Sold in 375 mg and 750 mg potencies, this is a well-absorbed curcumin form.