Published June 29, 2012
From memory glitches to bone loss, aging can cause a variety of unpleasant problems. But with healthy living and a few vitamins, getting older doesn’t have to mean getting sicker. We checked in with experts to find the top six vitamins to keep boomers going strong.
Studies have shown that glucosamine can help to prevent cartilage loss and keep joints lubricated, according to Andrea Warshaw-Wernick, founder of over-50 women’s health site FabAtAnyAge.com
“I hurt my hands lifting weights and I wore braces for a year,” she says. “But I started taking glucosamine for three months, and forget about it. It really works!”
While the vitamin is “fairly expensive,” Warshaw-Wernick says the reduction in joint pain is worth the price tag. “I’m not going to tell you it can cure arthritis, but I’ve had a lot of success with it, and I’d recommend it to anyone feeling like they need a little boost in their joints.”
Available as a stand-alone supplement and as part of some multivitamins, consumers should look to take around 1500 milligrams per day, Warshaw-Wernick advises.
“One thing that you don’t think about when you’re younger is the fact that your hair and nails will start thinning as you age,” says Warshaw-Wernick. “Around 55 or 60, women will start finding that their nails are getting a little brittle, their hair isn’t as thick as it used to be, and the best thing you can do to fix that is to take biotin.”
Biotin, which is sometimes referred to as vitamin B7 or vitamin H, can also help keep your skin supple and clear, she says. This can be wonderful for adults who have a tendency towards adult acne.
“This is one of those vitamins that’s not only for boomers—anyone who wants thicker hair and better skin and nails should look into it,” Warshaw-Wernick says.
She recommends a dosage of around 100 micrograms daily.
3.) Vitamin B12
“Once you turn 50, there are a few vitamins that you just don’t absorb as easily as you did when you were young. One of those is B12,” says Dr. Jo Ann Carson, a registered dietician and nutrition expert for the American Cancer Society.
B12 is found in animal protein, but for people who don’t eat meat, it’s best ingested in supplement form or in fortified foods.
“If you have a 16-year-old grandson who eats hamburgers every day, he’s probably getting enough B12. But most of us are not that young and we’re not eating meat that often,” she says.
B12 is best known for boosting the immune system and lowering blood pressure, Carson says, and is great for maintaining a consistent energy level throughout the day.
The recommended daily dosage is 100 micrograms, according to Carson.
4.) Krill Oil
Krill oil contains “phospholipids” which are important for healthy nerve and brain cell function, says Dr. Lori Steelsmith, a naturopathic physician and author of Natural Choices for Women’s Health.
Krill oil, which Steelsmith describes as being “more potent” than traditional fish oil, is high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which work to combat memory loss and reduce inflammation.
“You’re going to see that krill oil is more expensive than fish oil, but that’s because it’s more effective. The body more easily absorbs it through the small intestine” she says. “Because it reduces inflammation, it can help people suffering from joint pain or inflammatory disorders, and it contains a good dose of vitamins A and E.”
Krill oil is easily found at health food stores and consumers should look to take a dose between 1000 and 3000 milligrams, says Steelsmith.
This amino acid is most commonly found in green tea and in multivitamin supplements, and has a calming effect on the brain, says Steelsmith.
“I recommend getting L-theanine in green tea, because even though the tea may have caffeine, when combined with the L-theanine, the tea will improve attention, memory and cognition,” she says.
L-theanine can also “make you feel good,” according to Steelsmith, because it increases the natural levels of serotonin and dopamine in the body. She adds it can be great for women going through menopause or PMS, the amino acid helps to reduce feelings of stress, pain, and in general has a calming effect on the body.
Unfortunately, L-theanine does not have any “profound nutritional benefits,” says Steelsmith, but its stress-relieving effect can be fantastic for boomers who are prone to anxiety or may have relied on prescription drugs for sleep or relaxation in the past.
She recommends consumers take 200mg once or twice a day, especially before bedtime.
6.) Vitamin D
Studies have shown that people with higher levels of vitamin D have lower risk of developing cancer, says Steelsmith. Also, low vitamin D levels have previously been linked to a higher risk for Type II diabetes.
“Normal levels of vitamin D run anywhere from 25-100, but I like to see my patients with levels above 50 on their blood test,” she says. “Vitamin D plays a big role in how our bodies absorb calcium and phosphorous, and it’s wonderful at shorting up our immune system against disorders like the common cold and flu.”
An added advantage for boomers prone to blood clots is that low doses of vitamin D have also been shown to prevent them, Steelsmith says. Her recommended dosage is 100mg per day.