We keep track of passing time by different means—presidential administrations, our children’s movement through grades, fashion eras, simple decades. Life has many eras of growth and health, and if you’re a doctor, like Delicious Living’s medical director, Robert Rountree, MD, you would focus on physiology: childhood, post-pubertal teens, young adults, middle-aged, elderly. “There are definite differences in nutritional needs that correspond to each of those phases,” says Rountree.
And the good doctor is, of course, spot-on. As you age, your nutrition needs change. Here’s where to focus in each decade of life, and the supplements that can help.
Ages 0–10: A good start
The most beneficial supplement for early childhood development may well be a probiotic. Recent studies show that bacteria can transfer from mother to fetus and influence birth outcomes. One study showed that higher levels of Lactobacillus casei in pregnant mothers’ saliva led to higher birth weights and longer times in gestation—both very good things.
Plus, probiotics have been shown to reduce the incidence of eczema and infections, and can decrease the incidence and duration of diarrhea. One study among children ages 1–6 in day care showed that those who took probiotic strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG for seven months had about five sick days, versus six sick days among the children who did not supplement.Moms will attest that every single day counts!
Probiotic KidStiks, from American Health, are single-serve powder packs that contain three proprietary strains shown in a study to virtually eliminate respiratory infections (after three months of supplementation) and wheezing (after six months) among children younger than 5 who had been suffering from these symptoms monthly.
Ages 10–20: Bone up, kids
In fits and starts, teens work their way through the pubertal growth spurt. This is a time of profound changes, and it is wise to make sure you have a good skeleton to hold together all of that muscle, zits and ’tude.
Did you know that a leading indicator of osteoporosis after menopause is a person’s peak bone mineral density as an adolescent? Even a 10 percent increase in peak bone mass can decrease osteoporosis risk by an incredible 50 percent. That means teens need to seriously bone up!
Our new favorite bone-health ingredient is vitamin K2, which helps the body properly place calcium in the body—out of the arteries, into the bones. Carlson Labs has a Super Daily D3 + K2 supplement in easy-to-take drops—just two drops give you 2,000 IU of vitamin D3, plus the required 45 mcg vitamin K2. Your daughter will thank you for it many long decades from now.
Ages 20–30: Stay on your game
By the time your child heads off to college, she is no longer under your doting nutritional command. Let’s hope that, despite her newfound independence, she will remember the sage nutritional advice and practices she received from her parents.
These days, kids are disrupting the major beverage makers by shunning soft drinks and various forms of sugar water, instead opting for functional beverages like green drinks, kombucha and powder-based smoothies. The $400 blenders they buy are a pretty penny even for adults, but then, we weren’t spending $500 on a phone as kids, either. Sign of the times.
One of the newest, best (and yummiest) blender mix-ins is nutritional greens powder. We like the 100 percent fermented organic protein and greens from Whole Earth & Sea. It merges the trends of plant proteins and fermentation, which improves digestive issues like bloating and gas, and also positively affects the microbiome.
Ages 30–40: Working hard, looking good
Your 30s are when you first realize you may indeed be mortal, so you’d better get busy preserving your youthful good looks. It’s a good time to focus on skin-health nutrients.
We like collagen. Unlike other nutrients, collagen supplements work by tricking the body into creating more collagen. That’s because collagen in skin-health supplements comes as peptides, or pieces of protein. The body detects these pieces, instead of whole strands, and thinks the collagen inside the body is breaking down, so it makes more.
Collagen enhances connective tissue, and we lose collagen as we age. No surprise then that our skin wrinkles, sags and dries as we age. A study on women ages 35 to 59 using 1 gram per day of BioCell collagen for 12 weeks showed a decrease in facial lines, wrinkles and dryness. Reserveage Collagen Booster contains the same kind of collagen and dose used in that study.
Ages 40–50: The stressful, sleepless years
Adults at this age are typically working hard and under stress—perhaps as parents. There are a lot of antistress supps on store shelves these days. We could recommend a B complex along with adrenal support, featuring the likes of holy basil (tulsi tea, anyone?) or rhodiola (400 mg per day reduces stress symptoms in as little as three to fourteen days).
But, considering that the average consumer of recreational marijuana in the country today is a person in his 40s, let’s talk hemp-derived CBD. First: It doesn’t get you high. Second: Don’t call it CBD; today, it’s usually called hemp oil (not to be confused with hemp seed oil).
British researchers last year found that CBD has a curious adaptogenic effect: Acute and chronic use of CBD had no effect on either blood pressure or heart rate under normal conditions, but it did reduce both blood pressure and heart rate in stressful conditions.
It’s a veritable gold rush in the hemp oil market these days. Best to stick with pioneering brands with known quality-control practices. Three brands we like are CW Hemp (the original Charlotte’s Web), PlusCBD Oil and Functional Remedies.
Ages 50–60: Middle-age balance
Middle-aged adults typically start experiencing chronic conditions involving gastrointestinal, metabolic and cardiovascular systems. “To address all of those,” says Rountree, “start with the gut by taking a good prebiotic/probiotic, then add a comprehensive multivitamin/mineral and also take a good all-around antioxidant, such as N-acetyl cysteine.”
Sage advice, that. Also, Americans are finally seeing that it’s time for Ayurveda, the ancient medical paradigm of India. At its core, Ayurveda is about balance and harmony. The classic formulation for balance—what we in the West might call antistress—is Chyawanprash. It’s considered a jam, though it’s stickier.
A spoonful of Chyawanprash a day has, over the years, been consumed in India to improve immunity and serve as a geriatric drug. One study found that about 3 teaspoons after a meal reduced blood sugar levels and reduced cholesterol levels better than vitamin C. It’s composed of dozens of Ayurvedic herbs, like amla, rhodiola and ashwagandha. Hanah One is one such jam jar. Scoop out a teaspoon a day and put it in coffee or your morning smoothie, or lick it right off the spoon.
Ages 60–70: Tame inflammation
Older adults experience multisystem senescence: The body starts breaking down. Being that chronic inflammation is the root of all degenerative diseases, now is the time for the best inflammationmodulating natural compound in the cabinet: curcumin.
In addition to supporting healthy joints, heart and brain, curcumin also acts as an antioxidant and inflammation-regulator, protecting against blood sugar complications, research shows.
The typical recommendation is between 1,200 and 1,800 mg, taken daily in divided doses. The best selling curcumin supplement is CuraMed from Terry Naturally. It’s bound with turmeric essential oil, which helps the body absorb this large molecule.
Ages 70–80: Entertain your brain
Just 20 years ago, the elderly most feared and loathed The Big C: cancer. Today, The Big C stands for cognitive health. Nobody wants to get in a situation where the body is willing, but the mind is a shell. There are lots of brain-health ingredients out there, from botanicals like bacopa and huperzine A to healthy fats like phosphatidylcholine (PC) and the omega-3 DHA. Plenty of studies show no brain benefit with DHA. Almost all these studies use 500 mg or fewer per day of DHA. The positive results on mild cognitive impairment begin at 800 mg per day and up to about 1.7 grams per day of DHA.
Nordic Naturals is the teacher in the fish oil school of supplements. Its Omega Memory with Curcumin has 570 mg of DHA and 260 mg of EPA, along with PC and curcumin.
Ages 80–90: Keep going!
Once you’ve made it to this decade, far be it from us (or anyone) to tell you how to live. Just keep going. Have some red wine, light up a stogie and live a little (more).