Supplements for the 50+ Crowd: Live Longer, Health
by John McGran
Diet.com VP of Content
Echinacea, St. John's wort, valerian… worried aging Americans are turning to supplements as a way to ward off diseases like Alzheimer's and fight prostate cancer.
Dr. Jeffrey Blumberg, professor of nutrition at Tufts University, says dietary supplements fall into two distinct categories.
Nutritional supplements: These represent the traditional vitamins, minerals, proteins and fiber found in the major food groups. By definition, supplements are meant to do just that -- they supplement the substances normally found in foods.
Botanicals or herbal products: These are also considered "dietary supplements," but although named "dietary" supplements, they are not normally found as a natural part of our diets.
“The traditional medical community is finding many of these have considerable healing powers. Clinical studies have shown that St. John's wort is helpful in treating cases of mild depression. Ginkgo appears to slow the progression of Alzheimer's in patients with the disease,” Dr. Blumberg says.
“Anti-aging and alternative health products are extremely popular among senior citizens. One in 10 seniors uses some type of dietary supplement on a daily basis, such as ginkgo biloba, St. John’s wort, glucosamine, melatonin, and other herbal and botanical preparations.”
Dietary supplements come in many forms, including tablets, capsules, powders, softgels, gelcaps, and liquids. You can find a large variety right here at the Diet.com store.
The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine provides recommendations on the appropriate intake of vitamins and minerals. Over the years, the recommended levels have changed as research improves. Recommended dietary intake levels vary by sex and age group.
Recommended Dietary Intakes for Adults 50+
Vitamin A: 900 units (men) 700 units (women) (maximum upper level of 900 units for men and 700 units for women)
B1: 1.2 mg/d (men) 1.1 mg/d (women) (no maximum upper limit set)
B2: 1.3 mg/d (men) 1.1 mg/d (women) (no maximum upper limit set)
B6: 1.7 mg/d (men) 1.5 mg/d (women) (maximum upper level of 100 mg/d men and women)
B12: 2.4 units (men and women) (no maximum upper level limit set)
C: 90 mg/d (men) 75 mg/d (women) (maximum upper level of 2,000 mg/d men and women)
D: 10-15 units (men and women) (maximum upper level of 50 units men and women)
E: 15 mg/d (men and women) (maximum upper level limit of 1,000 mg/d for men and women)
K: 120 units (men) 90 units (women) (no maximum upper level limit set)
Experts strongly recommend seniors pursue a healthy lifestyle that includes intelligent supplementation. Nutritional supplements are one piece of a lifestyle that includes avoiding excessive drinking, cigarette smoking and other self-destructive activities, while getting regular and frequent exercise, and eating a healthy diet.
Vitamin E is a naturally occurring vitamin that is essential for human life. It is studied commonly used as a skin conditioner, antioxidant, heart protector, and memory enhancer.
Coenzyme Q10 is a naturally occurring antioxidant that exists in all human cells. Ongoing research has shown that the use of coenzyme Q10 may slow the functional decline of patients with Parkinson’s, a neurological disorder. The use of the supplement to improve heart and blood vessel is ongoing and inconclusive.
Calcium is a mineral found in bones and teeth. In older women, reduced absorption of calcium can lead to osteoporosis. Calcium supplements should be taken in small doses throughout the day along with food to ensure proper absorption.
DHEA is a hormone produced by the human adrenal glands. The body uses DHEA to produce other steroidal hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone. DHEA supplements are often touted as a way to reverse the effects of aging by boosting immunity, improving memory, and increasing muscle mass.
Saw Palmetto is the oily extract of the berries from the saw palmetto, a type of palm tree. It is primarily used to improve urinary flow associated with an enlarged prostate.
Garlic is a pungent bulb used as a flavor enhancer. Use of garlic can help prevent hardening of the arteries since it appears to cause moderate, short-term reductions in cholesterol. There is evidence that regular use of garlic may help prevent colds and preliminary evidence that garlic as a food may help prevent cancer.
Melatonin is an amino acid produced by the pineal gland in the brain. It is promoted as a sleep aid, a remedy for jet lag and an anti-aging supplement. The hormone is known to play a role in regulating the body clock's natural wake-sleep cycle, triggering sleep.
Glucosamine is a natural component of joint cartilage.
Ginkgo Biloba is the powdered extract of the leaves of the Ginkgo tree. It is under heavy study as a possible memory enhancer and treatment for Alzheimer’s.
St. John’s Wort has increasingly been touted as “herbal Prozac.” Some believe that it can help elevate mood and act as an anti-depressant.
Echinacea may enhance the immune system by stimulating the production of white blood cells.
Kava is commonly used to relieve anxiety and has also been used as an anticonvulsant.
Taking dietary supplements empowers you to take control of your health. Supplements will have a positive impact on your health… provided you handle them with care.