The Definitive Guide to Healthy Aging
It's no secret that Australia has been battling an aging population, with 2021 ABS statistics highlighting that 1 in 6 Australians are over 65 (1). With these statistics set to increase, the need to age gracefully has never been higher, but this doesn't have to be a daunting experience. Largely, healthy aging involves filling nutritional gaps because as you get older, your body produces fewer nutrients naturally. This is where supplements come into play as a quicker and more accessible alternative to maintaining your nutritional balance.
Calcium is an essential mineral that can play a critical role in your healthy aging journey, assisting in maintaining strong bones and teeth. This is especially important because as you age, your bone density naturally begins to decline, making them more brittle and susceptible to fractures. Hence, appropriate calcium supplementation can help improve health and maintenance of bone strength (2). Additionally, calcium is also effective in improving muscle function and blood clotting, with multiple academic sources noting that calcium helps muscles contract. This can lead to greater regulation of normal heart rhythms and nerve functions, which are contributing factors to blood clotting (3).
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for maintaining good health throughout your lifespan. But it plays an essential role especially for older adults, as one of the most common challenges with getting older is slower cognitive function due to the decreased communication between neurons. Omega 3 can help improve cognitive function and memory. Research further suggests that omega-3s may help reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia (4). An example comes from a recent study, finding that regular omega-3 supplementation was associated with better brain structure and cognitive function among healthy study volunteers in their 40s and 50s (5).
Collagen is a protein that is naturally produced by the body, primarily found in skin, bones and muscles, making it essentially the glue that holds all the tissues together. As we age, our bodies produce less collagen, leading to more visible signs of aging, including reduced skin elasticity, weakened bone structure and less muscle mass (6). However, adding collagen supplements to our diet can help maintain skin strength, elasticity, and skin hydration (6), a sentiment mirrored in a recent clinical trial, where female participants aged 35 to 55 received a daily oral supplement of collagen or a placebo for eight weeks. The results highlighted that women who received the collagen supplement had significant improvements in skin moisture and skin elasticity by 9% from baseline (7).
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a naturally occurring antioxidant involved in energy production in the body's cells. COQ10 plays a pivotal role in your general health, including supporting heart health, boosting energy levels and protecting your cells against oxidative stress (8). But as we get older our body's ability to produce CoQ10 decreases. Therefore your diet and supplementation need to adapt to changing nutritional needs. As low levels of CoQ10 can have negative impacts on your heart health, with a recent study highlighting that COQ10 supplementation helped improve symptoms of congestive heart failure by improving the user's blood pressure (9).
Overall, as you get older, your nutritional needs change, and your body is faced with a variety of concerns pertaining to bone, cognitive, skin and heart health. But this doesn't have to be a frightening experience. There are a variety of supplements and other complementary medicine-based solutions that can help you fill those gaps and give you the ability to age like a fine wine. Please note that it is recommended to consult to your doctor to find what option is right for you and offer recommendations regarding suggested dosage and frequency.
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1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2022). Older Australians: Demographic profile. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/older-people/older-australians/contents/demographic-profile
2. Gunnars, K. (2022). A Definitive Guide to Supplements for Healthy Aging. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/a-definitive-guide-to-supplements-for-healthy-aging#supplements
3. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. (n.d.). Calcium. The Nutrition Source. Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/calcium/#:~:text=Calcium%20is%20a%20mineral%20most,heart%20rhythms%20and%20nerve%20functions.
4. ScienceDaily. (2022, October 5). Having at least some omega-3s in diet may lower Alzheimer's risk, study finds. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/10/221005162432.htm#:~:text=Having%20at%20least%20some%20omega,the%20American%20Academy%20of%20Neurology.
5. Petersen, C. M., Kuczynski, B., Williams, R. C., & Gottesman, R. F. (2022). Omega-3 index and cognitive function: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Neurocognitive Study. Neurology, 99(23), e2572. https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000013083
6. Chen, J., Li, Y., Zhang, L., & Huang, X. (2021). Coenzyme Q10 as a treatment for mitochondrial dysfunction in aging-related diseases. Aging and Disease, 12(1), 240–256. https://doi.org/10.14336/AD.2020.0421
7. Blattner, C. M., & Benzecry, J. M. (2015). Coenzyme Q10 and skin aging: Cellulite and fat contour. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 14(2), 143–147. https://doi.org/10.1111/jocd.12174
8. Mayo Clinic. (2021, August 26). Coenzyme Q10. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-coenzyme-q10/art-20362602#:~:text=Heart%20conditions.,bypass%20and%20heart%20valve%20surgeries.
9. Rizvi, A. A., & Hasan, A. (2015). Synergistic effects of coenzyme Q10 and metformin in skeletal muscle against high-fat-induced type 2 diabetes. Journal of Diabetes and its Complications, 29(5), 657–663. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2015.03.002