There are basic things everyone can do to increase their likelihood of living a long life. While there are many things that are obvious “dont’s,” that is not what this article will be focused on. This will be about living healthy and the role that vitamins and supplements will play to keep your body and mind active and full of vitality.
The Quality of Vitamins and Supplements Matters
Vitamins and supplements are regulated by the FDA as “dietary supplements.” The FDA established “current Good Manufacturing practice (cGMP) regulations which require manufacturers to evaluate products through testing, purity, strength, and composition. As you can see anyone should analyze closely and compare what they are buying.
The only way to verify that the brand you are looking at actually contains the ingredients on the label and has no potentially harmful ingredients is if it is labeled with Underwriters Laboratory, Consumer Lab, NSF International, or US Pharmacopoeia. Any time you are in doubt you should talk to a Health Care Professional.
The main place to get all of your essential vitamins is from healthy balanced meals but the modern industrialized diet is severely lacking proper nutrition. Therefore, supplementing can be a part of anybody’s regimen. Some other people just need to supplement like pregnant mothers, babies, people who do not get proper exposure to the sun, and the elderly.
The best advice I can offer when looking to buy supplements is to look at two or three of the highest quality and then stick with them. Usually you will want to stick to the ones priced in the middle or the more expensive is sometimes a better value. The cheaper ones are priced that way for a reason. Choices like Life Extension or Swanson Health Products are my favorite choices.
The Role of Inflammation
When we have an injury of any sort (acute) the resulting inflammation is the body’s response to start the healing process. We would not even be able to heal without the inflammatory response. Acute inflammation is normally treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
When we are experiencing chronic inflammation it is an entirely different story. This is a sign that something else could be going on and if ignored long enough can lead to diseases such as cancer and arthritis. The biggest problem with that is most people are unaware that they are experiencing inflammation.
The best way to prevent chronic inflammation is with herbal supplements such as hyssop, Omega 3 fatty acids, ginger, and turmeric with curcumin. Some of my favorite products to help reduce and prevent chronic inflammation are Bio-Curcumin Turmeric Extract, Alpha Lipoic Acid, and Omega -3 Fish Oil.
Coenzyme CoQ10 – Why it is Important
The levels of CoQ10 in our bodies decline as we age. Any person who is taking statin drugs for high cholesterol should be supplementing with CoQ10 because the statins harm our mitochondria (the engine of our bodies cells).
The most important thing to consider in supplementing with CoQ10 is making sure you get the best quality supplement. Check the bottle and make sure you are not buying ubiquinone. The purest and best form is ubiquinol. My favorite choice here is Super Ubiquinol CoQ10 with Enhanced Mitochondrial Support.
Even though these are over the counter supplements this should be discussed with your Doctor if he/she has not recommended it.
What are Mitochondria?
Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell. They are “Organelles” that are inside our cells and they produce about 90% of the chemical energy that cells need to survive. Without energy there is no life so you can see what an important function they have. They not only produce energy but also produce chemicals for other purposes like breaking down waste products and recycling some of them to save energy.
Mitochondria are very important to our health and well-being. As of now there are no pharmaceutical drugs to treat mitochondrial disease but there is work in the process to develop them. Some natural ways to support your mitochondria are:
- Protein – meat, eggs, fish, legumes, nuts.
- Healthy fats – Omega 3 fish oil, avocados, flax seed oil, coconut oil, olive oil.
- Core nutrients – such as vitamin C, vitamin E, the B vitamins, and iron
- Antioxidants – Alpha Lipoic Acid, and Super Ubiquinol CoQ10 200mg
An Essential as We Age into our 60s and Beyond
By the time we have reached the age of sixty (60) or even before, we should be very conscious of our lifestyle and making every effort at living healthy. If you are taking prescription medications then by all means always discuss taking any vitamins or supplements with your health care professional.
That being said, the evidence for certain supplements is clear. Some you will benefit from and others you would be wasting your money.
- Vitamin D3 – Guidelines are 600IU (International Units) per day for anyone under the age of 71 and 800 IU if over 71. It is hard to get all of the Vitamin D you need just from your diet alone and it serves many purposes in our body. It absorbs calcium from the intestines keeping our bones healthy. Evidence also states it may reduce the risk of prostate cancer and other malignancies.It also may reduce risk of neuromuscular problems such as falling.
- Vitamin B12 is needed by strict vegetarians and older people. It is only found in animal based products and older people do not make enough stomach acid to absorb it in the digestive system.
- Folate – Folic acid or B12 deficiency anemia causes several symptoms that can gradually get worse if not treated. Some of these are fatigue, headache, feeling faint, heart palpitations, and loss of appetite. Folate is essential to produce red blood cells so if you feel any of these symptoms you should be diagnosed as soon as possible because some problems can be irreversible if left untreated.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids – These are essential fats that the body cannot make on their own like it does for most of the other types of fats that it needs. Foods that contain Omega 3 are fish, flax seeds and flax seed oil, vegetable oil, nuts, and leafy vegetables. They are commonly known as polyunsaturated fats.
- The most beneficial effect of Omega 3 fats concerns heart disease, blood pressure, and heart rate. They can improve blood vessel function and at high doses even reduce inflammation.
My advice on supplementing with Omega 3 fatty acids is always take a high quality brand as I have referenced above. This can be very beneficial to us as we age into our golden years.
The vitamins and supplements that evidence finds you would be wasting your money on are:
- Multi-vitamins – Most of the evidence on multi vitamins is mixed however they do remain wildly popular. I prefer to target only the ones I am positive that I need.
- Vitamin C and B Complex – These are water soluble vitamins and anything extra is eliminated through urine so there is no benefit. However if you are deficient only take the daily recommended dosage.
- Vitamin A – Most people are not deficient and high doses can be dangerous.
- Antioxidant blends – High levels can lead to a risk of heart disease and some types of cancer.
- Iodine – Your body needs it but our food has been fortified with it for years.
- Iron – Can have very unpleasant side effects including upset stomach and/or constipation. You should only take when recommended by your Doctor and only in the dosage prescribed.
Eating a balanced and healthy diet will always give you the best chance of getting all of the essential, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that your body needs. The problem is that most people are too busy or not conscientious to maintain that type of diet. Other people especially as we age are just deficient and need to take vitamins and certain supplements.
I always advise to check the brands out first and do not waste your money on ones that won’t do you any good. There certainly is a difference in quality and some of the best are only just a few dollars more than the cheaper counterparts. Your health and body will thank you immeasurably! Please ask questions or leave comments below.