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At age 50, you are now experiencing changes in your body you probably dreaded 15 years ago. Your skin becomes wrinkly. Your arms are flabby. Your hairline starts to recede. Your bones get weak. You become prone to being ill. Aging will come whether you like it or not.
At this age and beyond, it is necessary to focus on your health by making sure your body gets all the nutrients it needs to keep it strong and able to combat changes aging brings.
Your nutrient needs now differ from way back when you were half your age, and a healthy diet may not be enough to provide you nutrients vital for various body functions.
An effective way of ensuring proper nutrition is through the intake of supplements. Here are seven supplements you should consider when you are over 50:
Did you know that your bones get resorbed and remodeled into new bones throughout your life? Bone remodeling process occurs in three stages: resorption, reversal, and formation.
Resorption refers to the breakdown of mature bone tissue and the release of bone minerals into the blood before new mononuclear cells appear and new bone tissue is formed. However, at age 30, your body starts to resorb more old bones than it can develop new bones.
When the number of resorbed old bones exceeds the formation of new bones, you can suffer from bone loss. Bone loss continues through old age and throughout this process your bones will slowly lose mineral density until they become brittle and prone to osteoporosis.
Along with the loss of muscles, age-related bone loss or osteoporosis makes you at risk of losing your balance while moving around which could result in fractures and other injuries.
To make matters worse, calcium reserves in your bones can deplete if your body does not get enough calcium from your diet to be used for other body processes, such as the transmission of signals through the nerves, release of hormones, and muscle contractions.
At a younger age, a diet rich in calcium may be sufficient to keep the bones healthy, but at age 50 and beyond wherein you have to be more careful with what you eat, eating higher amounts of certain calcium-rich foods may not be advisable.
For many older adults, intake of calcium supplements is the most suitable option in maintaining bone health. As women suffer from more bone loss at an earlier age, calcium intake of 1,200 milligrams per day is recommended for women over 50 while men at over 70.
The dosage of calcium supplementation depends on what you get from your diet. However, before taking any calcium supplement, you should consult with your physician first.
When taking calcium supplements take not more than 500 milligrams at a time after a meal for better absorption. Do not take more than what is recommended because it can be harmful to you.
Too much calcium in your body can cause kidney problems and can obstruct iron absorption. Some studies also show that high intake of calcium particularly from supplements can increase the risk of heart disease.
A few lifestyle factors can affect maximum calcium absorption so you might want to check on your daily habits. High caffeine intake, excessive alcohol drinking, too much stress, smoking, and lack of exercise are bad habits you need to minimize or eliminate.
2. Vitamin D3
Another nutrient essential for maintaining bone health is vitamin D. Increased daily calcium intake is useless if your body does not get enough vitamin D because it is responsible for regulating calcium absorption from your diet. Also, vitamin D is responsible for regulating cell growth.
Are vitamin D and vitamin D3 the same? Yes, they are. Your skin produces vitamin D3 when exposed to ultraviolet B rays from sunlight and is later converted by your body into vitamin D to be made available for use.
Exposure to sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, but prolonged exposure can be harmful to your skin. To make sure you get all the vitamin D your body needs, you can eat foods fortified with the vitamin or take supplements.
Your physician may recommend a vitamin D supplement or a combination of vitamin D and calcium in one pill. Vitamin D supplements are usually labeled as vitamin D2 or D3, but vitamin D2 tends to lose its effectiveness when taken in high doses.
Vitamin D is fat-soluble so take it after a meal or with a glass of milk during breakfast. If the dosage upsets your stomach, divide the pill into two and take the other half later during the day.
A bit of sunshine early in the morning will not hurt so if you are able and have the time, get out and let the sunlight touch your skin even for at least 30 minutes. It will help boost your vitamin D levels and improve your mood.
3. Omega 3
Omega-3 fatty acids are classified into three which includes EPA, DHA, and ALA. EPA and DHA are abundantly found in fish. ALA is found in nuts and seeds. Omega-3 fatty acids are good fats vital for specific body functions. They are also beneficial for the health, especially for older adults.
In truth, your body can produce the fats it needs but not omega-3 fatty acids, so you need to get them from the food you eat or by taking supplements.
Fish should be included in your diet, but it is recommended to eat only two servings of fish per week. Fish particularly the large edible species contain mercury and eating fish containing this toxic substance regularly can be harmful to your health. If you do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids from your diet or if you do not eat fish at all, taking omega-3 supplements is a good option you need to consider.
Omega-3 fish oil supplement is a concentrated source of DHA and EPA naturally found in fatty fish, such as anchovies, tuna, sardines, herring, mackerel, and salmon.
Intake of Omega-3 fish oil supplement is scientifically proven to:
- Lower high blood pressure
- Lower bad cholesterol levels
- Prevent or minimize the formation of plaque in the arteries
- Lower risk of suffering from abnormal heart rhythm
- Reduce the risk of developing heart diseases
- Reduce the risk of suffering from heart attack or stroke
- Reduce inflammation
- Improve brain functions
- Help relieve anxiety and depression
These are health problems more common in older adults.
Before taking fish oil supplements, consult with your physician first. Fish oil supplement is good for your health but should be taken with caution. Your physician can recommend the right dosage depending on your needs and on your health condition. He or she can also warn you of possible side-effects and chemical interactions with other medications.
4. Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 is a fat-soluble nutrient which belongs to the vitamin K family. You may not frequently hear or read about it, but vitamin K plays vital roles in your health.
Health benefits of vitamin K2 include:
Keeping Bones Strong
Studies show that vitamin K2 deficiency contributes to the weakening of the bones. The relation between the two relies on the findings that insufficient vitamin K2 in the body results in reduced amounts of active osteocalcin, a protein in bones necessary for bone development and which serves as a biomarker for bone turnover.
Studies also showed that vitamin K2, not K1, together with calcium and vitamin D is responsible for decreasing bone turnover or bone resorption.
Vitamin K2 is also responsible for carrying calcium into the right places in your body, such as your bones and teeth.
Calcium can travel into inappropriate places, such as arteries and soft tissue, in your body instead of going into your bones and teeth. This occurrence is known as calcium paradox which can result from vitamin K2 deficiency.
Aside from making sure calcium reaches your bones and teeth, vitamin K2 is also responsible for removing calcium from where it should not be. A protein called Matrix GLA protein or MGP is dependent on vitamin K2. Its primary function is to prevent vascular calcification or the buildup of calcium in arteries and soft tissue by binding with calcium ions.
Vascular calcification can contribute to the development of cardiovascular diseases. However, studies show that vascular calcification can be prevented and even reversed by increasing the daily intake of vitamin K2.
Vitamin K2 or menaquinone is mainly found in grass-fed beef, dairy, and fermented foods. If you do not get sufficient vitamin K2 from your diet, you can consider taking supplements which are also often recommended when you are taking calcium and vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin K2 supplements come in two classifications, MK4 and MK7. MK4 is the version of vitamin K2 found in grass-fed beef and dairy while MK7 is the version of the vitamin found in fermented foods. Another difference between the two is that MK7 can stay longer in the blood at therapeutic levels than MK4.
Before taking vitamin K2 supplement, consult with your physician if it is an option for you. Your physician can also inform you about its side-effects especially if you are suffering from an illness and for possible interactions with your medications.
Magnesium is a crucial nutrient for various body functions, such as regulating blood pressure and blood sugar levels, maintaining muscle and nerve functions, producing protein, and in stabilizing DNA.
Magnesium can be found in a variety of foods, such as:
- Dairy Products
- Green Leafy Vegetables
- Whole Grains
The recommended daily intake of magnesium varies by age and sex. Generally, males have higher RDI than females at any age. However, magnesium needs increase as people age.
Insufficient intake of magnesium may not cause noticeable symptoms right away. If left unnoticed, it can result in magnesium deficiency over time with symptoms including:
- Loss of appetite
- In extreme cases, magnesium deficiency symptoms include:
- Muscle Cramps
- Abnormal Heart Rhythm
Teenage girls and older adults are particularly prone to lack of magnesium. Health experts suggest getting most of the vital nutrients from your diet, but if your food does not provide your body with sufficient levels of magnesium, you can consider taking supplements.
In older adults, intake of magnesium supplements has particular health benefits, such as:
Improved Bone Health
Increased consumption of magnesium can help to prevent bone loss and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Studies show that people with higher intakes of calcium have a greater bone mineral density which is indicative of healthier bones.
Lowered Blood Pressure
Findings of a study showed that intake of 368mg magnesium supplement for 12 weeks reduced blood pressure by an average of 2 mm Hg systolic blood pressure and 1.8 mm Hg of diastolic blood pressure in people suffering from hypertension.
Reduced Risk of Type2 Diabetes
Type2 diabetes is a lifelong disease that occurs when your body has become resistant to the effects of insulin or when it becomes unable to produce sufficient levels of insulin. Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas.
Its main function is to help cells absorb glucose to be used as a source of energy. When there is not enough insulin to manage glucose metabolism, glucose will stay in the bloodstream resulting in increased blood sugar levels.
Studies show that increased intake of magnesium helps to reduce the risk of insulin resistance and impaired glucose absorption. A meta-analysis of several studies shows that intake of 100 milligrams of magnesium per day reduces diabetes risk by 15 percent.
Excessive intake of magnesium from foods will not necessarily harm your body because your kidneys can expel the excess in your urine. However, ingestion of magnesium supplements should not exceed the recommended upper limit dosage of 350 milligrams in adults.
Your body cannot quickly get rid of excess magnesium from supplements. Unnecessary intake can result in symptoms which include nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. Extreme levels of magnesium intake from supplements can result in abnormal heart rhythm and cardiac arrest.
Consult with your physician. He or she can recommend the right dosage and inform you of possible interactions with medications if you are taking any.
6. B Vitamins
B vitamins are a group of water-soluble vitamins essential for various body functions. These include:
- Thiamin or Vitamin B1
- Riboflavin or Vitamin B2
- Niacin or Vitamin B3
- Pantothenic acid or Vitamin B5
- Pyridoxine or Vitamin B6
- Biotin or Vitamin B7
- Folic acid or folate Vitamin B9
- Cyanocobalamin or Vitamin B12
These B vitamins are vital in providing our body energy, but each of these B vitamins has different functions which mainly involve promoting growth, development, proper digestion, and metabolism. Although, your body does not need them all at the same time to perform these functions.
B vitamins are found in animal and plant foods, such as:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Whole Grains
One can get enough B vitamins from a well-balanced diet. However, some people may not be able to properly absorb these vitamins due to unhealthy lifestyle choices, chronic illnesses, and old age. Another option to fulfill daily B vitamins needs is to take supplements.
If you are over 50 and concerned about getting enough B vitamins, consult with your physician if B vitamins supplements is an option for you. Recommended daily intake of B vitamins varies depending on age and current health condition.
Dosage should be monitored because taking excessive amounts can result in increased blood sugar levels and skin problems. It can also be harmful to your heart and liver.
7. Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo biloba is one of the most well-known natural remedies worldwide. Its use of traditional Chinese medicine in treating blood circulation disorders and age-related memory decline dates back from thousands of years. Today, Ginkgo biloba is widely recognized for these benefits and is sold as an herbal supplement all over the world.
Leaves and seeds were used by ancient Chinese for medicinal purposes. Ginkgo biloba supplement companies use the standardized extract, from the plant’s dried green leaves, which is proven to contain concentrated amounts of beneficial compounds.
Ginkgo biloba extract contains numerous compounds, but scientists found that only two of these compounds have medicinal effects. These two compounds are called flavonoids and terpenoids, both are antioxidants but work differently in improving blood flow and cognitive functions.
Flavonoids protect nerves, muscle tissue and soft tissue from damage caused by free radicals. Terpenoids help dilate blood vessels and reduce the thickness of platelets.
Ginkgo biloba extract has been used for the following health problems:
Ginkgo biloba extract was thought to improve Alzheimer’s disease by improving blood flow to the brain, but recent studies suggest this benefit is mainly due to the extract’s protective effect on nerve cells.
Macular degeneration is a degenerative eye disorder that affects the retina. According to some research, intake of Ginkgo biloba extract may help prevent or slow down the progression of macular degeneration due to its protective effect on the retinal tissue.
Normal Tension Glaucoma
Glaucoma occurs when there is a buildup of pressure inside the eye that may damage optic nerves. It is a progressive disease and may result in blindness if left untreated. On the contrary, normal tension glaucoma occurs even if there is no buildup of pressure in the eye. This usually results from poor blood flow.
A small study in 2011 found that intake of Ginkgo biloba extract improved blood flow to the eyes in patients with normal tension glaucoma.
Intermittent claudication refers to the occurrence of pain on the legs due to reduced blood flow to the area. People who suffer from intermittent claudication have difficulty walking because of the pain. Ginkgo biloba extract can help to improve blood flow and reduce pain.
After analyzing eight studies, researchers found that patients who took Ginkgo biloba extract walked 34 meters farther than those who received the placebo.
Adults may take 120 to 480 milligrams of Ginkgo biloba per day and divide it into two to three doses. Ginkgo biloba supplements can be used even without a physician’s prescription.
However, it is better to consult with your physician first about possible side-effects especially if you suffer from chronic diseases and interactions with medications before taking.
Also, when buying Ginkgo biloba supplement, always choose to buy from trusted brands and sellers.
Proper nutrition is a key to maintaining healthy body functions especially now that your body is aging. Intake of supplements is an excellent way to provide your body nutrients your diet lacks.
Before taking any of these supplements, consult with your physician first especially if you suffer from any illness. Supplements are helpful to the body but can have unwanted effects due to several factors.
Finally, together with taking supplements, you should aim to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle for optimum health at age 50 and beyond.