None of us is unaware of supplements, the dietary supplements to be specific. They are meant to give our bodies nutrients that we may not consume in sufficient quantities. With every passing year of our lives, the vital chemicals and minerals in our bodies decline, thanks to the receding nature of our physical abilities. Since we cannot stop our bodies from growing and eventually aging, we can actually slow down the aging process. Providing our bodies with certain supplements becomes essential, of course if we want to feel energetic, youthful and disease free! Here we are going to discuss certain essential anti-aging supplements that you should consider having with your growing age. But are they really essential?
Is it Essential to Take Dietary Supplements?
For most of the time, natural food sources giving you essential vitamins and minerals are the best. You need to take dietary supplements only when you are not getting sufficient nutrients from your daily diet or when your body needs some extra nutrition like during pregnancy. People above the age of 50, sometimes do need to take supplements due to reduced ability of their body to absorb certain vitamins but that too is not at all essential. Is it essential for you to take nutritional supplements may be decided by your doctor and in most of the cases by yourself only. Ask these questions to yourself to determine, whether it’s essential for you to have nutritional supplements!
- Am I having less than two meals in a day?
- Am I have restricted diet? Am I not including meat, milk and milk products in my diet?
- Am I not having at least five servings of fruits and vegetables during the day?
- Have I lost or gained weight without any effort during the past months?
- Do I take more than three prescribed or over-the-counter drugs in a day?
- Do I smoke?
- Do I take 3 drinks or more than that in a day?
Answers to these questions will automatically tell you whether you should take dietary supplements or not. If you are above the age of 50 and if after getting the answers of the above questions, you think, its essential for you to have nutritional supplements, consider taking the following after consulting you doctor for dosage. You may also like to first increase the natural food sources in your daily diet and see if it works and you feel more energetic due to the extra nutrition they provide.
1. Vitamin B12
As you grow older, your body loses its ability to absorb vitamin B12 from food that you eat. This is because stomach acid production declines with aging and this acid is needed to absorb vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is essential to keep your red blood cells and nerves healthy and working. Red blood cells are needed to carry oxygen throughout the body. Deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to pernicious anemia, extreme fatigue and neurological issues like forgetfulness, dizziness, tingling and lack of co-ordination. If you are a vegan, you are prone to have deficiency of vitamin B12 because its natural sources are mostly animal sources.
Natural Sources of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is found naturally in the following foods:
What if you don’t want to take either B12 supplement or its natural animal food sources?
Still there is a way out, in the form of fortified foods. Foods fortified with vitamin B12 have this vitamin in its crystalline form that your body can absorb. You can have, for example, fortified breakfast cereals to meet your daily requirement of vitamin B12.
2. Coenzyme Q10
Coenzymes, as the name suggests, help enzymes in performing various body processes. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is similar to a vitamin and is present in every cell of your body. CoQ10 is needed by cells to produce energy which is used for growth and maintenance of cells. It also works like an antioxidant and protects your body against harmful molecules. CoQ10 is made by your own body within cell organelle “mitochondria”. However, its levels decrease with age and your body needs to have it from outer sources beginning from age as early as 35 years. Read more about the Benefits of CoQ10 Supplement
Natural Sources of Coenzyme Q10
Coenzyme Q10 is found naturally in the following foods:
- Meat (Pork heart, reindeer meat and beef heart have highest amount of CoQ10)
- Fish like sardines, mackerel
- Oils like soybean, rapeseed, sesame, cottonseed and corn oils. Sunflower and safflower oils have lesser amounts of CoQ10
- Soybeans, azuki beans
- Peanut, pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts.
- Almonds and chestnuts have very small amount of CoQ10. Peanuts have high amounts of CoQ10
- Sesame seeds
- Vegetable like spinach, broccoli, sweet potato, sweet pepper, garlic, peas, cauliflower and carrots have small to moderate amounts of CoQ10.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is needed for anti aging purpose, at least for these three reasons:
- Vitamin C is an excellent antioxidant that protects and prevents damages to your body. It counters the free radicals that are produced when you digest your food or when you are exposed to outer harmful elements like sun rays, pollution, cigarette smoke etc. It is not all, vitamin C also helps in regenerating other antioxidants in your body.
- Vitamin C is essential to produce collagen and elastin. These two elements have important roles to play in keeping your skin firm, your joints flexible and your blood vessels strong. It makes your skin look younger.
- Vitamin C is one of the essential nutrients for healthy immune system. Vitamin C which is also called ascorbic acid boosts your immune system. It eliminates virus and bacteria from your system.
As vitamin C cannot be produced by our body, it has to be derived from food sources and if necessary, from supplements. It becomes more important to have more of vitamin C when you age because immune system needs regular boost.
Natural Sources of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is found naturally in the following foods:
- Peppers, especially yellow pepper
- Dark green leafy vegetables like Kale, turnip greens, spinach
- Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage
- Berries like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries
- Citrus fruits like oranges, lemon, grapefruit
- Papaya and other fruits like mango, pineapple, and melon
4. Vitamin E
It is also important to protect your aging brain along with your skin and other physical assets. Vitamin E which is a fat soluble antioxidant proves to be the best supplement for aging brain as it promotes your brain’s health and cognitive functions making you reason and remember as perfectly as you do at younger age. Recent studies have also shown that this vitamin improves short-term memory in older adults. Vitamin E is by far the most important antioxidant as it protects your cell membranes and enzymes associated with them by preventing all the damages to them. It is also important for your heart’s health as well as for liver and skin.
Natural Sources of Vitamin E
Vitamin E is found naturally in the following foods:
- Cooked spinach and other leafy greens like Swiss chard, turnip greens, collards, and kale.
- Almonds and other nuts such as pistachios, pecans, and walnuts.
- Sunflower seeds and other seeds like pumpkin, squash and sesame seeds.
- Shrimp and other shellfish like crayfish and oysters.
- Fish like rainbow trout, swordfish, herring, and salmon
- Olive oil and other plant oils such as wheatgerm, sunflower, grapeseed, canola, and corn oil.
- Cooked broccoli
- Squash and pumpkin
5. Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA)
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a versatile antioxidant. Versatile because it is both, a fat soluble as well as water soluble antioxidant. ALA is produced by your body and is there in each of your body cells. It destroys the free radicals that degenerate cells and make you fall sick. Although your healthy body is capable of producing just enough ALA, you may still need to have it in the form of a supplement if you suffer from an illness or experience adverse effects of aging. Why ALA is so important can be understood from the below facts:
- Because ALA is fat-soluble and water-soluble, it can provide protection to your body cells, both from outside as well as inside.
- Not only does ALA provides continuous energy to your body cells but it also rehabilitates other antioxidants like tripeptide glutathione and vitamins C and E. This prevents these other antioxidants from wearing out and they function more effectively.
- If you have been exposed to radiation, ALA when present with vitamin E, can be an excellent treatment for such radiation poisoning.
Natural Sources of Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA)
Foods in which the amino acid lysine is structurally bound to protein are the natural sources of ALA. They include the following:
- Meat, particularly organ meats like heart, liver and kidney.
- Yeast, particularly brewer’s yeast
- Brussels sprouts, peas and tomatoes have lower amounts of ALA in them.
Why Natural Sources of ALA are not Sufficient?
While ALA produced by your body is beneficial, when you eat ALA through natural food sources, they have negligible effect on you. It is because this ALA in dietary sources is bound to an amino acid called lysine. Now this lysine itself remains bound to protein and thus cannot move freely as ALA. Your digestive enzymes are not capable of breaking bonds between ALA and lysine. Thus, your body cannot take advantage of this dietary ALA as much as it benefits from ALA which is produced by your own body. So what’s the solution then? You may have it in form of dietary supplement. But make sure that the dietary supplement which you take contains ALA that is free and not bound to protein.
Carnosine, a combination of two amino acids, rejuvenates your cellular proteins, lipid and DNA structure. Proteins are the building blocks of living organisms including you and me. However, proteins continuously get destructed due to oxidation and glycation. Oxidation relates to free radicals and glycation relates to protein-sugar reactions. When you loose too much of protein, you head towards premature aging and age related degenerative diseases. Carnosine protects you against the age-related degradation of protein. Carnosine occurs naturally in our bodies and is predominant present in brain and muscle cells. However, its levels in the body declines with age and thus it becomes essential to have it from other food sources or supplements. Before knowing the natural sources of carnosine, lets see how it helps in anti aging.
- Carnosine acts as an antioxidant in muscle and protects muscle cell membranes from oxidation.
- Carnosine makes the heart muscle contract more efficiently by enhancing calcium response in the heart cells.
- It rejuvenates connective tissue cells and thus is helpful in wound healing.
- As carnosine prevents degradation of protein, it is helpful in preventing wrinkle formation as well as loss of skin elasticity.
Natural Sources of Carnosine
- Meat- beef and pork
The above food sources of carnosine shows that vegetarian diet lacks in this anti aging amino acid. So, if you are a vegan, you need to take a dietary supplement for carnosine if you want its benefits to be transferred to your body for anti aging effects.
Melatonin is basically a hormone secreted by the pineal gland located at the base of the brain. It is popularly known as ‘sleep hormone’ as it helps regulate sleep and wake cycles but the role of melatonin is far bigger than just making us fall asleep. Many scientific researches have shown that melatonin hormone has positive effect on many things- heart disease, diabetes, bone health and obesity. It also protects us genetically and against age related disease and degeneration through its crucial role in many metabolic functions including antioxidant and neuroprotection, anti-inflammatory defense and immune system support. Melatonin production in our body reduces with age which contributes to the aging process and also generalized deterioration of health. Here is why melatonin is one of the essential supplements for anti aging.
- Melatonin attacks free radicals while you sleep. It is more powerful in reducing oxidative damage than vitamins C and E.
- It plays an important role in fighting free-radical-related diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even cancer.
- Melatonin has anticarcinogenic properties and thus it prevents cancer from occurring.
- Melatonin supports circadian rhythm, hormone balance, reproductive health, cognition, mood, blood sugar regulation, and bone metabolism. It also lowers blood pressure.
- It improves overall antioxidant status.
It helps delay Alzheimer’s disease.
- It combats obesity. It suppresses abdominal fat, plasma leptin levels, and insulin levels, which helps in reducing body weight and food intake.
- It helps prevents osteoporosis. Researches show that melatonin has positive effects on bone repair bone mineral density.
Here are more Benefits and Side Effects of Melatonin
Natural Sources of Melatonin
Melatonin is found naturally in the following foods:
- Olive oil
- Tart cherries
- Grape skins
- Sweet corn