Let's talk about why supplements can help with longer, healthier lives.
What does being 40 mean? Hopefully, it’s a brave new era, ushered in by clearer thinking and a better idea of what you want from life.
By 40, we’ve hopefully realized what things are important and learned how not to sweat the small stuff.
One thing that should have made it onto everyone’s “what’s important” list is your health. You might have realized that some of the things you did in the past weren’t what was best for you, and certainly not best for hitting 50, 60, and even 70 in your prime.
There are a handful of broad categories to look at as we work toward a healthier future. Regular exercise is key. Keeping a healthy musculature will increase metabolism and reduce the likelihood of injuries.
Maintaining our mental acuity should also be high on our to-do list. Things such as taking different routes to and from work, playing puzzle games, and reading will help keep you mentally sharp as you age. And you’ll want to start supplementing your diet.
Most of us can figure out how to exercise to stay in shape. Mental exercise may already be embedded into your day. But which supplements to take is a deep dive into a category many of us don’t know well enough to make informed decisions.
Vitamins are key to maintaining health!
Let’s start with Vitamins – these are probably the easiest to get your hands on.
Vitamins to look out for:
Vitamin D should definitely be on your list. Don’t take a multivitamin without at least 100% of your daily allowance of Vitamin D. Many people are surprised to learn that over 40% of the population has a Vitamin D deficiency!
Chances are, you aren’t getting enough Vitamin D. While getting enough sunshine is one way to help your body create its own Vitamin D, most of us don’t generate enough that way. Thus, most of us will need to take a supplement of this vitamin.
Vitamin B12 complex should be next on your list. Like D, B12 has a long list of health benefits. B12 will help increase emotional wellness and mental health. It can help you maintain your balance and improve sleep cycles for better rest. It can even help your sense of smell stay intact as you age.
All of these are even more important than they may initially appear to be, because injury and improper diet are two of the things that cause us to veer from a healthy trajectory onto one that involves injury recovery and weight gain and more.
B12 also helps maintain blood cell counts which can help reduce feelings of fatigue and infection. Rather than having to fight our way back to health after a debilitating setback, B12 will help us stay healthy in the first place.
Vitamin A is found in meats like chicken and fish and even in dairy. Vitamin A is a complex molecule that includes compounds such as retinal, retinol, and retinoic acid.
If you recognized the “retina” portion of the compounds included in Vitamin A, then it’s no surprise that this vitamin will help maintain your eyesight. If you’ve ever had an eye injury, or even had your eyes dilated for a checkup, you’ve probably had a rude awakening to how important our eyesight is.
Vitamin A helps keep our rhodopsin functioning well. But what is that? Good question. Rhodopsin plays a key role in night vision, helping us distinguish shapes. That might not seem like a big deal, until you get injured from failing to distinguish shapes at night.
Without clear vision, everything else can suffer. Eyesight naturally declines as we age, but a good daily intake of Vitamin A can help maintain the vision we already have.
Vitamin A will also help maintain a healthy immune system and has been shown to support healthy cell growth.
As we age, we can become more susceptible to unhealthy setbacks. Anything that gets in the way of maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle can put us at a disadvantage we have to recover from.
The younger we are, the faster and easier we will bounce back. But as we start to progress beyond 40, the bounce back can become more time consuming and more difficult.
Our best bet is to prevent these problems from even occurring in the first place.
Reducing cholesterol is key!
The next thing on our to-do list is to reduce our cholesterol. First, we need to know a little about cholesterols in general. There are good ones and bad ones.
Good cholesterol is HDL, or high-density lipoprotein. “Bad cholesterol” is LDL, or low-density lipoprotein. There are a handful of other varieties in between, but these are the two that we measure.
Maintaining open and unclogged arteries, keeping a healthy blood pressure, and avoiding heart damage are just a few of the very important reasons to watch our cholesterol. Lowering our cholesterol levels within a healthy range can predict our risk as we age.
Younger hearts have an advantage fighting against clogged arteries as younger hearts are stronger.There’s also a concern that cholesterols can lead to the buildup of plaques in the arteries. This causes restrictions to blood flow and reduces the elasticity of the arteries and veins.
Because this can take time to build up to a problematic level, many men over 40 are already on their way to some level of damage, even if they don’t feel it or know it yet.
This means that a cholesterol fighting supplement is on our list to add to our daily routine. Clearly, an excess of LDL or bad cholesterol is something we want to avoid. So, what will help with that?
Fish oil is a great way to reduce cholesterol, and the good news is that you can both take a supplement and add more fish to your diet.
Fish oils that contain docosahexaenoic acid can help with lowering bad cholesterol in the bloodstream.
While you may not have heard of docosahexaenoic acid, it’s an Omega-3 oil, and that’s something you probably have heard of. This particular fish oil is known to help with brain function, skin maintenance, and eye health.
Gut health is often overlooked, but very important.
Another thing we need to watch and maintain is our gut health! This is something often overlooked, but gut health is essential to our entire lifestyle. Recently, the gut has been directly linked to GABA, a neurotransmitter that triggers a host of hormones directly affecting things such as mental wellness, adipose (or fat) storage, and even sleep cycles and mood. So, maintaining a healthy gut is a priority for everyone, but especially for those of us over 40.
Orange extract can benefit all these systems affected by GABA. It can increase mood and lift stress (which, in turn, leads to better gut function, as the two are inextricably linked.) It can help maintain immune responses and joint function as well as keep our gut bacteria healthy. All of these will lead to better gut function. Improving our gut function is high on our list, and Orange extract is one way to benefit that.
Another thing that can benefit gut function is a probiotic supplement. Our guts contain trillions of bacteria and, while that might not sound pleasant, the vast majority of those bacteria are our friends.
We have to feed them well, because they are essential to helping us digest our food. If we don’t digest properly, then we lose the benefits of what we ate, and we don’t get our vitamins, proteins, and minerals from our food.
We want our guts to break down our food into the smallest possible pieces. Think of it like building blocks. What we eat is a whole constructed piece, and we can only absorb individual blocks. Without those bacteria helping to take all the pieces apart, we are losing our nutrition.
A probiotic supplement may contain billions of bacteria, but that shouldn’t concern us. Because our gut contains literally trillions of bacteria a few billion is just a drop in the bucket. But it is enough to give us better gut function when taken daily. You might be thinking, “But my stomach is full of acid. Won’t that kill any of these bacteria?” It would, but recent scientific developments have made capsules that can deliver live probiotics directly where they are needed. If you don’t like live culture yogurt enough to eat it every day, then a probiotic should be on your supplement list. Gut health is one of the things we can sense on a daily basis, so a probiotic can make you feel noticeably better in just a few days!
Circulation is key to numerous benefits.
Our circulation—our blood—is the primary transport of all our essential needs. Each cell has a blood system that delivers vitamins, proteins, minerals, water, and more while removing waste products like CO2. Improving our circulation improves the health of every cell in our body, including those in our brains. Thus, maintaining a healthy blood supply and circulatory system is essential to happier, healthier living after 40.
Green tea is often reported to be one of the healthiest drinks we can easily find. However, a lot of us just aren’t ready to start drinking it daily for various reasons. That doesn’t mean we have to forgo the benefits, though!
Green tea extract can be taken in a pill form and provide wonderful benefits without the taste or effort. Polyphenols help maintain circulatory and immune function and helps reduce the presence of free radicals in the body. “Epigallocatechin-3-gallate” may be mouthful but EGCG is the main compound in green tea that gives it so many benefits.
EGCG is a catechin that has been highly studied and has been shown to have positive effects on blood glucose management, reducing obesity, and maintaining cardiovascular and metabolic health.
In addition, green tea extracts can help prevent stress and increase antioxidants in our system by boosting our body’s ability to support them. They can also help reduce blood pressure and patients have seen reductions in blood fat levels. Green tea extracts are also associated with lowering triglycerides and total cholesterol.
Chromium is an additional mineral that’s helpful for boosting circulation and increasing blood flow benefits. Foods that contain chromium include whole wheat breads, orange juice, green beans, and broccoli, among others. If you’re getting enough of these in your diet, that’s wonderful, but if you think you might not be, a chromium supplement is probably the next thing you need.
While the mechanism by which chromium works isn’t entirely known, we do understand that it aids insulin action. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas and it helps maintain blood sugars in the proper amounts. In a healthy individual, insulin levels are always fluctuating to balance out the sugars we eat (this includes not only the sugars like candy and sweets, but also the carbohydrates we consume, which are broken down into sugars by the body.) Having proper insulin function is imperative to maintaining cell health, and a chromium supplement can improve that.
Circulatory health is often overlooked when choosing supplements, but it’s a major player in managing the entire body system. Maintaining it with a program that includes green tea extract and chromium can keep us functioning in all other aspects of our lives.
While there are many helpful supplements to keep us going on a healthy path as we cross 40 (and 50 and 60 and so on), this is an excellent starter list. For those considering a multivitamin, make sure it contains 100% of your recommended daily allowance of Vitamins A, D, and B12. While there are plenty of others to add to the list (magnesium, folate, choline, and vitamins C and E, and more) these are the ones that will have the most immediate impact. These are also the ones to be certain your multivitamin contains!
If you can, add to your supplements by stopping harmful habits, too. Limit alcohol to one drink per day. Stop smoking or vaping if you can, or at least cut back. Avoid high impact exercise, especially if those joints are starting to feel a little of the wear and tear already. Protecting them can keep you moving into the future, and movement will help keep everything else working well!
In the end, the phrase “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” has never been more meaningful than it is as we cross important age mile markers. Humans today are capable of living healthier, longer lives. While it may seem something for the distant future, you’ll want to enjoy your retirement and not think that youth is wasted on the young. The best way to do that is to avoid injury and illness and maintain your current level of health.
This may mean fending off some of the damage we unknowingly did in our 20s on track now, reducing our cholesterol, improving our gut function, and maintaining our mental health are the easiest ways to assure that our best years are still ahead of us.