As the supplement industry expands by the minute, the cacophony of marketing around which supplements to take is nearly deafening at this point. The obvious question on everyone’s mind is: what should I be taking on the daily?
Some supplement companies tout a cure for every ache and pain [making them fountains of youth] while conventional scientists and the media have an endless supply of reminders re: a supplement’s lack of safety and efficacy.
What’s the truth? Somewhere in between.
There is still a lot we don’t know about supplements which makes the quality of what you choose of utmost importance. So instead, the question, I pose for anyone under my care [and myself included] is this: what becomes of critical importance as we age based on what we know to be true about physical degeneration?
This is where supplementation can play a key role. But don’t let this question forgo food as the forefront of our foundational support, providing the primary source of nutrients. The efforts you make to diversify your colors of fresh food, your fibers, your proteins and anti-inflammatory fats will drastically decrease the need for a complex lineup of supplements to fill in nutrient gaps. And then it’s time to tune into what you feel as you age bringing in targeted nutrients in a personalized way.
Some of the symptoms below shed light on nutrient deficiencies:
- I often feel run down and exhausted grabbing for quick snacks instead of real, whole food [could be low protein, fat, fiber and polyphenols]
- I sometimes have to skip a meal, even as often as a couple of times a week, because I’m so busy [could be low protein, fat, fiber and polyphenols]
- I almost always skip breakfast [could be low protein, fat, fiber and polyphenols]
- I get twitches in my eyes [could be low magnesium]
- My legs feel crampy or restless at night [could be low calcium, magnesium, or iron]
- I get colds easily and they take awhile to clear up [could be low zinc, low vitamin C, low vitamin D]
- I struggle with mood issues especially depression or anxiety [could be low vitamin D, low essential fatty acids, low B vitamins]
- I have sugar cravings [could be low B vitamins, low trace minerals]
- My joints ache sometimes [could be low essential fatty acids]
- I easily get constipated [could be low magnesium]
- I sometimes get white lines on my fingernails [could be low zinc]
- I’ve been told I am at risk for, or have, osteoporosis, or a family member has had it [could be low calcium, low vitamin D]
Fighting for daily consistency of 4-5 cups of vegetables, 20 g protein every 4 hours and a good diversity of fruits, roots and legumes as your carb source will eradicate so many of the symptoms of nutrient deficiency. However, in my role of supporting the embrace of graceful aging [because aging is something we are so fortunate to be able to do!], here is my lineup of foundational supplemental support for men and women of all ages:
A multivitamin/multimineral supplement
- while I didn’t used to recommend a multi, I now do and here’s why! Our soil quality is drastically disintegrating making the nutrient density of our produce sparse. A daily robust multi helps make sure you have the bases covered [esp. as it pertains to nutrients we use in higher demand namely B vitamins, zinc and chromium]. Any whole food multi is usually a good bet. Go for non-GMO, organic, and free of dyes, additives, and colorings.
Vitamin D3 [paired with K2]
- Vitamin D is responsible for hundreds of functions in the body, from healthy immunity to healthy bones. Although you do get vitamin D from sun exposure, it may not be enough. It’s best to get tested before supplementing so that you know how much you need. Ask your doctor to have your D level checked. An ideal test result should be between 40 and 80. Pairing D with K2 increases its efficacy.
- I recommend glycinate unless there is constipation, and if there is, citrate often does the trick, for a daily total of 600 mg. Magnesium supports healthy bones, restful sleep, relaxed muscles, and balanced mood.
- omega-3 fats are important for reducing inflammation, heart health, mood, mind, hair, and maintaining healthy weight. The ideal intake of omega3 is 2g [mostly from EPA] a day. Vegans can take an algae-sourced omega, just keep in mind that it is not as readily available to the body, so you’ll need to take a higher dose.
supplements for 40s, 50s… & beyond!
As we enter into what I like to call our “wisdom years,” there are a few things to think about above and beyond the foundational support targeting accumulated oxidative stress, the strength of our bones, decreased nutrient absorption and a decline in the rate of musculoskeletal regeneration. It is possible to target all of the above without resorting to a “geriatric-ly large” pill case or succumbing to the scapegoat: “I’m just getting old.” Your body will respond to information it’s given reminding you that your body is beautifully designed to heal itself; even as we age [making age a privilege not a curse!]
for optimizing nutrient absorption:
- consider taking bitters or apple cider vinegar before all meals [optimizing stomach acid and digestive enzyme output]
- over the age of 50, I often recommend women [esp. those with poor bone density] switch over to betaine HCl which greatly extracts the nutrients needed for bone health – this is especially important for women taking PPI medications for reflux which interfere with stomach acid – check with your doctor before you start taking betaine HCl if you have any problems with stomach ulcers
for bones + skin:
- with a stark decrease in collagen synthesis, the consumption of protein with a fierce commitment to consistency alongside the usage of collagen will support not only your bones and your skin but your entire musculoskeletal system – consider upwards of 20 g protein coming from a high quality collagen powder daily as a complement to your other proteins you enjoy
for mitigating oxidative stress + inflammation:
- consider bolstering up your microbiome – turns out our gut is at the helm of our capacity to fight inflammation and our environmental sources of oxidative stress
- increasing your fiber intake to ≥40g per day, diversifying the colors of your produce [providing your gut bacteria with food in the form of polyphenols too!] and consuming different fermented foods weekly will sharpen your internal protection
- take it one step further and consume spore-based probiotics which are crucial for keeping your communities of probiotics protected by nurturing an environment in your gut for them multiply and thrive
choosing quality of supplements:
Because the FDA requires supplements follow what are called Good Manufacturing Practices, we can generally rest assured that what’s on the label is in the product. However there is still a tremendous range in quality making it of utmost importance to seek out companies that are reputable, 3rd party tested for purity + potency, and honest. A few retail-grade companies I stand by [with no affiliation] include:
- Gaia herbs
- PURE encapsulations
- JustThrive spore based probiotics
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