At Ageology, we use balanced supplementation to address four key areas of health that need more attention and maintenance in patients beyond middle age:
- Heart health, including cholesterol counts and blood pressure
- Modification of stress
- Brain health and protection
- Blood sugar balance/prevention of diabetes
Within each category, we recommend different supplements. In this post, we’ll cover the first category, because it’s a big one – heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. The other categories, which are just as important, will be covered in upcoming posts. As you read these blog posts, please remember that you should consult with an Ageology physician before you start taking supplements so the doctor can determine the proper dosage for your specific health needs. Taking too many supplements or taking them in the wrong balance can have a harmful effect on your body.
Multivitamins: So, how about a common multivitamin? Will this do the trick to protect your heart? While it can help cover all your health bases, it won’t deliver the balance we recommend for optimal health. Still, a broad-spectrum multivitamin containing all the essential nutrients in moderate doses is just good health insurance. Don’t seek out versions containing “megadoses” of nutrients; there’s no evidence that higher doses are better. Avoid multivitamins containing iron if you are male or a postmenopausal woman.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): This substance is made in almost every body cell. It is an antioxidant, which means that it helps protect cells against metabolic wear and tear—the kind of wear and tear linked to faster aging and earlier onset of age-related diseases. Declining levels are typical with age, and supplementation is supported by a good deal of research. CoQ10 is especially promising as a supporter of heart health.
Multiple research studies on CoQ10 supplements for heart failure, heart attack recovery and hypertension suggest that supplementation is beneficial. Prevention of periodontal disease and Parkinson’s disease therapy are other promising uses. Statin drugs often prescribed to lower cholesterol deplete CoQ10, and there’s reasonably strong evidence that this has a negative impact on energy levels and health. Ageology physicians recommend taking 30-200 mg a day as a softgel—on the higher end of this range if you are at risk for heart disease or already have it, or if you take statin drugs. Keep in mind that this fat-soluble nutrient is better absorbed if you take it with a meal containing fat.
Fish oil: Although we recommend this primarily for heart health, it covers many bases in an age management program. Chronic low-grade inflammation is one of the primary factors implicated in age-related disease and accelerated aging; fish oil is rich in omega-3 fats, so it acts as a natural anti-inflammatory. It is the only pre-formed dietary source of the particular omega-3s we know to be most effective against inflammation (EPA and DHA). Many studies point to the positive impact of fish oil against irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, and high triglycerides. Omega-3s from fish oil also help “thin” the blood, reducing risk of clotting that can lead to heart attacks or stroke.
These same fats promote improved mood; studies demonstrate that fish oil is an effective natural medicine for depression, memory loss with aging, ADHD, and bipolar disorder. (Higher doses are needed for these benefits than for general health promotion.) Adding extra omega-3s with fish oil may also help control eczema and psoriasis.
Consider using a molecularly distilled fish oil supplement that gives you a daily dose of up to 3,000 mg a day of combined DHA and EPA. If you have one of the conditions mentioned above, check in with your integrative metabolic medicine practitioner to see whether higher doses or a specific balance of EPA to DHA is advisable for you.
Calcium/Magnesium: This duo of minerals collaborates to keep the bones strong, the cardiovascular system healthy, and the nervous system balanced and calm. Magnesium has a therapeutic-level impact on blood pressure.
Try a dose of 600 mg calcium and 400 mg magnesium per day. Taking cal/mag in the evening before bed can help promote deep, rejuvenating sleep. Don’t take calcium with other supplements or medications, because it can interfere with their absorption. Magnesium taurate is the best form of magnesium for lowering blood pressure. If you can’t find it teamed with calcium, buy your calcium and magnesium separately.
Berberine: This isoquinolone alkaloid is found in plants like barberry, Oregon grape and Chinese goldthread. It has been used as a traditional medicine for centuries because of its antibiotic properties, but recent research points to its strong impact on heart health. It is a powerful antioxidant and has beneficial effects on insulin receptors, making them more efficient at keeping blood sugars balanced. (Pre-diabetic imbalances of blood sugar and insulin are major heart attack risk factors.) It lowers all the “bad” kinds of blood fasts and helps relax blood vessels, reducing blood pressure. Other potential benefits of this multi-purpose plant compound: cancer prevention, Alzheimer’s inhibition, and antidepressant action.
Niacin: This B vitamin is a great natural cholesterol-balancing agent. It boosts “good” HDL, which creates a better balance between LDL and HDL—a much better measure of heart health than total cholesterol. It also lowers LDL and triglycerides. Niacin is available over the counter, but it’s best used with physician guidance. The niacin “flush,” where skin turns red and hot for a few minutes following a dose, is a little annoying, but harmless. Discuss the right dosage with your doctor.
Plant Sterols: Plants make their own kind of cholesterol, known as phytosterols. These plant “good guys” block absorption of cholesterol from food through the walls of your intestines. Studies have found that two grams a day of plant sterols can lower LDL 9-14 percent.
Hawthorn: This herbal medicine has a long history of use for cardiovascular complaints. It helps reduce blood pressure via relaxant effects on blood vessel walls. Modern research suggests it’s an effective part of therapy for congestive heart failure, chest pain and irregular heartbeat. It contains compounds that improve the pumping strength and regularity of the heart. Follow dosage directions on the supplement container or consult your healthcare practitioner about how much to take.
Aged Garlic: Yet another traditional medicine with strong modern research backing! It has multiple impacts against heart disease, including antioxidant, blood thinning, cholesterol and blood pressure lowering, and anti-inflammatory qualities. Aged garlic has greater impact than fresh garlic, and won’t make you smell like an Italian restaurant. Take 500-600 mg per day.
Again, it is important to remember that taking in too many supplements can have potentially harmful effects on your body. Before incorporating any supplements into your diet and healthy aging routine, consult an Ageology physician for proper instructions and dosage.
Photo credit: mensfitness.com