​Top Nutrients for Aging Gracefully

To better assist us through all of our life stages, we not only need to have the basics in place such as eating a balanced diet, getting ample sleep, maintaining a fitness routine, and having sufficient relaxation time; we also can gain the benefits that supplementation can provide us along the way. No matter where we are in our lives – 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond – there are basic supplements we all need for optimal wellness.
 
Starting with what I call the “Core Four” is a great beginning. My idea of core four supplements includes a multivitamin/mineral, omega-3s, probiotics, and an additional combination of calcium/magnesium/D3/K2. What an individual may need beyond these will depend on their specific health needs, including if they need additional support for heart, brain, vision, joint, or sleep health. 
 
A high-quality multivitamin/mineral can help ensure that we are getting the RDA requirements of several important vitamins and minerals. Multis ideally should have a substantial amount of calcium, magnesium, omega-3s, and vitamins D3 and K2 as MK-7 for men and women’s bone and heart health; however, not all do because it’s tough to get all of these ingredients, plus others into only one or two pills. Therefore, it's recommended we get additional amounts of various important nutrients. (A note to menopausal women: many can still benefit from continuing a multi with iron, since anemia can persist, but most men do not need additional iron.
 
Omega-3s have an immense amount of research backing up how they support brain, nerve, vision, joint, cardiovascular health, and so much more. The American Heart Association and GOED (Global Organization of EPA and DHA) recommend 500 mg daily for the general healthy adult population. We are now seeing 1-2 g/day of omega-3s in research being beneficial and recommended; therefore, an additional omega-3 supplement may be necessary.
 
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria located throughout our body, but mainly in the intestines. These lactic acid bacteria promote gastrointestinal support, a healthy immune system, and more. Be sure to look for formulas that provide a variety of strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
 
Digestive enzymes are more and more important as we age because our digestive enzymes tend to decrease, which can lead to more GI upsets, bowel issues, and impaired digestion. Digestive enzymes can be taken on a regular basis with meals or on an as-needed basis.
 
It's difficult to synthesize adequate amounts of vitamin D from sunlight due to restricting time out in the sun, sunscreens, latitude, time of year, skin tone, and lower conversion rate as we age; therefore, supplemental vitamin D is an excellent and necessary addition. Vitamin D3 is incredibly important, as it promotes a healthy immune and cardiovascular system; supports teeth, bone, and muscle health; aids with mood health and brain function; and more. The amount of D3 needed varies from person to person. The best way to know how much you need is to have your vitamin D levels tested. Optimal levels range from 40-60 ng/mL, according to the Vitamin D Council. Carlson offers an at-home Vitamin D Test Kit.
 
Research over the past several years has shown how important vitamin K is with supporting healthy cardiovascular function, promoting healthy blood flow by maintaining vascular elasticity, and promoting healthy bone and teeth calcification. Most adult recommendations for MK-7 are around 45-180 mcg/d. 
 
Minerals like calcium and magnesium are imperative for many bodily functions. Magnesium is an especially important mineral that oversees over 350 enzymatic processes in our bodies. Calcium is particularly important for bone, teeth, and heart health. Just like other muscles in the body, the heart requires calcium for contraction. Calcium, magnesium, vitamin D3, and vitamins K1 and K2 all work together to benefit our bone health and cardiovascular system.
 

 
Beyond the “Core Four”- Additional Supplement Options for Healthy Aging:
 
Vitamin E as a fat-soluble, potent antioxidant supports heart health as we age. CoQ10 is another important antioxidant and fat-soluble vitamin. We produce CoQ10 in the mitochondria of our cells, which is called the powerhouse of the cell, and it's concentrated in our muscle cells, liver, and highly concentrated in our heart muscle. As we age, we make less of it, and it can be depleted by certain types of medications.
 
If you are fatigued or excessively work out, D-Ribose is a five-carbon sugar that our bodies naturally produce. It supports energy production and muscle endurance and recover. It comes in a powder form that can be added to a cold beverage or smoothie.
 
Sleep is such an important time for the body and mind to rest and repair from daily tasks. How well we sleep has a major influence on our overall quality of life, and sleep issues tend to increase as we get older. If lack of sleep is due to stress, certain supplements like l-theanine, GABA, and magnesium can assist. L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea that exerts a relaxing, yet non-drowsy effect. GABA is a naturally occurring amino acid that promotes a healthy mood, relaxation, and restful sleep. Melatonin is a hormone that promotes relaxation and a healthy sleep pattern, so you can fall asleep and stay asleep. Since melatonin production decreases as we age, adding this in near bedtime may be helpful.
 
As we age, it's important to support our eyes and protect them from blue light damage, caused by sun exposure and excess use of a computer, tablet, or phone screens. Various nutrients such as: carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, vitamin C, bilberry, NAC, and minerals like zinc and copper work as antioxidants that can assist overall eye health.
 
Aging gracefully includes staying active and keeping our joints healthy. Some of the best nutrients for our joint health include tart cherry, curcumin, ginger, and boswellia. If you haven’t been exercising regularly or have certain physical limitations, it's recommended to start off slowly and gradually progress to a level and ability you can maintain and sustain for life.
 
As we age, it's important we take care of our health needs, manage stress, get sufficient sleep, eat well, and maintain a healthy routine. Add to your healthy routine with the "Core Four" or other nutrients mentioned above.
 

 
A special note to those who may already be on heart medications: be sure to check with your practitioner as fish oil, vitamin E, and CoQ10 are mild blood thinners and vitamin K is a mild clotting agent. They may not be able to be taken with certain anticoagulant medications.