Supplements that fight 4 roadblocks to healthy aging

I was talking with a friend the other day about getting older. We both were quite clear on being proactive about how we age — because who doesn’t want to maintain their quality of life and independence for as long as possible?

We know what we’re up against… particularly, four conditions that have been identified as roadblocks to healthy aging:

Thankfully, you don’t have to sit back and let these conditions wreck your life…

A critical review of nutritional supplements concluded that supplements and lifestyle changes can positively impact these roadblocks and promote healthy aging.

Here are a few they examined and how they can help…

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Supplements for sarcopenia

Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass that occurs with aging. It can start as early as your 30s, but it really kicks into high gear in your 50s and 60s. It can keep you from climbing stairs, carrying groceries, opening a jar of pickles or enjoying physical activities.

  • Protein — In one three-year study, older adults who ate the most protein lost 40 percent less muscle than those who ate the least. Consume at least four ounces of protein-rich food daily, such as whey protein, which has three amino acids that makeup 35 percent of muscle protein.
  • Creatine — This compound produced by three amino acids helps your body produce energy faster. Creatine can be found in seafood and red meat. It’s also available in flavored or unflavored powders both in health stores and online.
  • Branched-chain amino acids — These are essential amino acids your body needs for good muscle health. BCAAs are often included in protein supplements. However, be careful not to overdo it or you could gain weight, tank your mood and shorten your life.
  • Vitamin D — It’s critical to have sufficient vitamin D levels for good bone and muscle health. Vitamin D also helps control low-level inflammation that destroys muscle protein. You can get vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, but if you have a vitamin D deficiency, supplementation may be the way to go.

Supplements for insomnia

Sleep quality is a clear biomarker able to predict the development of Alzheimer’s disease down the road. Poor sleep can also lead to high blood pressure and diabetes.

  • Melatonin — This hormone is produced naturally by the body to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Supplementing with melatonin can help improve your sleep quality and ability to fall asleep. Take it 30 minutes before bedtime for maximum effect.
  • Valerian root — This herb works by increasing the amount of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) to block signals to your brain that cause anxiety. It can be taken as a supplement or as a tea. For valerian tea, soak two to three grams of dried valerian root in one cup of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes. Whichever form you use, make sure you take it 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Magnesium — This calming nutrient promotes muscle relaxation and better, deeper sleep. You can get magnesium from foods like pumpkin seeds, spinach and kefir or take a magnesium supplement at bedtime.
  • Tart cherry — Tart cherry juice is naturally rich in melatonin. It’s also high in tryptophan and anthocyanins, two compounds that help the body create melatonin.
  • Kiwi — Kiwi is high in antioxidants and serotonin, a natural mood booster that can also regulate sleep. Research shows eating kiwi daily can improve both sleep quality and sleep quantity.

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Supplements for cognitive impairment

  • Magnesium — Research shows a 41 percent increase in magnesium intake can lead to less age-related brain shrinkage and lower risk of dementia later in life.
  • Vitamin D — Deficiency in vitamin D has been linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline and a quicker rate of cognitive decline, as well as a significantly higher risk of dementia.
  • B vitamins — Vitamins B6, B9 and B12 help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. B6 can be found in fortified cereals, beef and beef liver, poultry, starchy vegetables and some non-citrus fruits. Foods containing B9 (or folate) include fortified cereals, dark green leafy vegetables, beans, peanuts, whole grains, sunflower seeds and fresh fruits. And foods with B12 include fortified cereals, fish, meat, poultry, eggs, clams, oysters and beef liver.

Supplements for eyesight

  • Age-Related Eye Disease Study supplements (AREDS 2) — This formulation of specific nutrients has been shown in studies to reduce the risk of progression to advanced stages of age-related macular degeneration. The nutrients are: vitamin C, vitamin E, copper, zinc, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. While you can get all these supplements separately, there are AREDS 2 supplements available in drugstores and online.

Supplements for hearing

  • Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) — ALA is an antioxidant that could significantly reduce damage to sensitive structures in the ear, such as the cochlea. It has been shown in animals to protect against age-related hearing loss. ALA is found in red meat, carrots, beets, spinach, broccoli and potatoes.
  • Folate — A study conducted in the Netherlands showed that folic acid supplementation slows age-related hearing loss. The people in the study were given 800 mcg folic acid a day.

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Nutritional Supplements for Healthy Aging: A Critical Analysis Review — American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine

Creatine — Mayo Clinic

Does Kiwi Help You Sleep? — Sleep Doctor

AREDS 2 Supplements for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) — National Eye Institute

Vitamin B6 — National Institutes of Health

Folate (Folic Acid) – Vitamin B9 — Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Vitamin B12 — National Institutes of Health

Alpha-Lipoic Acid – Uses, Side Effects, and More — WebMD

The effect of alpha-lipoic acid on temporary threshold shift in humans: a preliminary study — ACTA Otorhinolaryngologica Italica

Supplements That Combat Hearing Loss — Two Rivers Hearing

Carolyn Gretton

By Carolyn Gretton

Carolyn Gretton is a freelance writer based in New Haven, CT who specializes in all aspects of health and wellness and is passionate about discovering the latest health breakthroughs and sharing them with others. She has worked with a wide range of companies in the alternative health space and has written for online and print publications like Dow Jones Newswires and the Philadelphia Inquirer.