For those over 40, and especially those over 55, taking the right supplements can make a huge impact on your long-term health. When we’re younger, we feel invincible, and our bodies can be quite forgiving. As we age, it becomes ever more important to make sure we’re giving our bodies the nutrients they need to age gracefully.
What are the supplements that make the biggest difference for those who want to age well? Which supplements prevent or reduce the symptoms of arthritis? Which supplements prevent osteoporosis and weak bones? Which supplements actually reduce the visible signs of aging like wrinkles and grey hair? Which supplements reduce your risk of developing heart disease? These 7 anti-aging supplements are scientifically proven to help fight back the symptoms of aging so that you can grow old gracefully.
Anti-Aging Supplement #1. Pick a good multivitamin.
This is so that you can, as they say, have your bases covered. It’s a good place to start, and it should be on everyone’s radar, not just those who want to age well. A good multi-vitamin will make up for the most common nutrient-deficiencies we all have, and it will help all our other supplements work in balance with each other the way they should.
That said, most multi-vitamins suck.
PVP. Polyethelene glycol (AKA antifreeze). Sheep’s wool. Parabens. Artificial colorants. Talc. Titanium dioxide. Mineral oil. Shellac (a nice way to say beetle poop).
Those are just a handful of ingredients that get put into vitamin supplements.
They fill them with caffeine to make you feel energetic, riboflavin to turn your pee bright yellow so you’ll think it’s working.
Do multivitamin manufacturers even know where their vitamins come from? Nope. I called a half dozen different companies, and they literally don’t know.
And have you ever noticed that most multi-vitamins smell bad? The smell has always made me nauseous, so it’s hard for me to swallow them.
Friends, have I got some good news! I found a company that makes well-sourced, clean multi-vitamins (that actually smell good!). They’re extraordinarily transparent about exactly where their ingredients come from, and they don’t fill their vitamins with any junk or unnecessary extras. They’re even gluten-free, GMO-free, soy-free, etc. They’re marketed for women, but there’s literally no reason men can’t take them as well.
Anti-Aging Supplement #2. Start taking collagen daily.
Collagen is like magic. It’s also a regular part of a pre-industrial diet, but not so much a part of a modern one. Most of us don’t keep fresh broth simmering on our stove tops each day, so we’re not getting enough of this powerhouse that’s necessary for so many good things.
Collagen peptides help prevent wrinkles and fight inflammation. Studies have shown that consuming collagen peptides helps increase collagen production in the skin and joints, despite sun exposure (source). And of course, lack of collagen production is what causes wrinkles.
Collagen peptides are also an effective therapeutic treatment for preventing and reducing the symptoms of osteoarthritis. In 2014, researchers conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study (the gold-standard for scientific research on the effectiveness of treatments), and they concluded that taking collagen peptides reduces the pain associated with osteoarthritis in the knees and improves joint health! (source)
The good news is that more than 90% of collagen peptides you ingest are immediately digested, absorbed, and distributed to your body’s collagen tissues, making consumption of these nutrients an ideal way to promote collagen production (source 1, source 2).
You can stir collagen peptides into any drink. They are tasteless and dissolve in both hot and cold liquids. My husband blends a spoonful into his coffee each morning (along with butter and honey for a supremely decadent drink). I make a fresh gallon of iced tea every couple days, and I stir 4 spoonfuls of collagen peptides into the tea concentrate I make on the stove. I pour the warm tea concentrate + newly dissolved collagen into a glass gallon jug, add filtered water to the top, then plop the whole thing in the refrigerator. VOILA! Collagen-rich iced tea.
Anti-Aging Supplement #3. Take a Vitamin D3 + K2 supplement.
Almost everyone is deficient in vitamin D, thanks to our modern life’s indoor living and working arrangements. We just don’t get enough sun, and when we do get it, we often think of it as the enemy and slather ourselves in sunscreen. (See: Should you use sunscreen? and Does sunscreen prevent skin cancer?)
Low levels of vitamin D have long been associated with the diseases of aging — from cognitive decline to depression, osteoporosis to hypertension, cardiovascular disease to cancer (source).
Osteoporosis (weak bones from low bone density) affects more than 10 million Americans, most of them over 50 years old. It’s common knowledge that vitamin D supplementation fights osteoporosis, decreases risk of bone fractures, and generally works to reduce risk for half a dozen other major health complications. (source)
Now, the old standard advice used to be that people over 40 should not only supplement with vitamin D, but also with calcium. However, recent studies have shown a link between taking calcium supplements and increased risk of cardiovascular disease (source).
Want to take a guess why that is?
Lack of vitamin K-2! You see, K-2 is the vitamin that your body uses to tell itself where to use calcium. Without it, all that extra calcium goes to weird places — like your arteries instead of your bones, where it leads to the calcification (hardening) of your arteries (aka atherosclerosis). Taking K-2 may be the single greatest thing you can do to help prevent cardiovascular disease as you age (source).
Vitamin K-2 is found in grass-fed meat, grass-fed dairy, pasture-raised eggs, and some fermented food (with the best source being natto, followed by real gouda cheese).
Both vitamin K-2 and vitamin D are fat-soluble vitamins, meaning that they are better absorbed in the presence of fat. As such, you’ll want your supplement to use fat as delivery vehicle.
I recommend a liquid D3 + K2 supplement that’s in a blend of olive and MCT oil. Or, if you’d just like to take K2 by itself in a pill form, then this softgel that’s filled with both olive and MCT oil.
Anti-Aging Supplement #4. Start taking Black Seed Oil.
I only recently fell down a research rabbit hole into the health benefits of black seed oil. (Hint: there are many!) The benefit that surprised me the most, however?
They conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study about whether or not black seed oil really helps reverse and prevent grey, thinning hair. Turns out that black seed oil is scientifically proven to make your hair grow in thicker (like, thicker individual strands), fuller (more hair density for you folks fighting baldness), and with the right pigmentation (your natural hair color, not grey)!
Black seed oil can also be an effective treatment for both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Its anti-inflammatory compounds support immune cells that target and destroy abnormal, diseased cells. In treating rheumatoid arthritis, black seed oil showed a “marked improvement” in the number and duration of swollen joints and morning stiffness compared to a placebo (source). And a 2016 study showed that the topical use of black seed oil is more effective in reducing knee pain from osteoarthritis than acetaminophen (which you may know as Tylenol)!
Those who wish to take this therapeutically usually start off by eating a tablespoon every day (it makes a great salad oil when mixed with olive oil), then dropping back to a tablespoon every other day after a few months.
Anti-Aging Supplement #5. Take a NAD+ Boosting Vitamin B3 Supplement.
Modern anti-aging research has identified mitochondrial decay as the main culprit behind aging.
Mitochondria are our cells’ energy dynamos. Descended from bacteria that colonized other cells about 2 billion years, they get flaky as we age. A prominent theory of aging holds that decaying of mitochondria is a key driver of aging. While it’s not clear why our mitochondria fade as we age, evidence suggests that it leads to everything from heart failure to neurodegeneration, as well as the complete absence of zipping around the supper table.
Recent research suggests it may be possible to reverse mitochondrial decay with dietary supplements that increase cellular levels of a molecule called NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide).(source)
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is a co-factor that’s present in all living cells. It slowly starts disappearing as we age, but we can boost our NAD+ levels through supplementation.
In 2013, the same award-winning scientist who brought you all the research into the anti-aging and anti-oxidant properties of resveratrol a decade ago published a paper that changed how we understood the aging process. He showed that the mitochondria in elderly mice could be restored to a youthful state by supplementation with a NAD+ booster.
They’ve since done studies on humans to show that when middle-aged and older adults supplement with the NAD+ booster nicotinamide riboside (NR), it elevates their NAD+ levels and helps their mitochondrial function more like those of younger people (source). This, of course, has the potential to be quite therapeutic in reducing the signs of aging and age-related diseases (source). A 2018 study even concluded that, “evidence implicates that elevation of NAD+ levels may slow or even reverse the aspects of aging and also delay the progression of age-related diseases.”
This is true particularly of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. There have been numerous studies in which supplementing with NR has been shown to improve memory, learning, motor function and mitochondrial function as well as protected against neuronal cell death and cognitive decline (source, source, source, source).
Your body makes NAD+ by synthesizing from three main precursors — NR (nicotinamide riboside), NA (nicotinic acid, also called niacin), and NAM (nicotinamide). NR, NA, and NAM are all variations of vitamin B3. Now while it is true that your body can use any of these to make NAD+, a 2016 study showed that NR converted more efficiently into NAD+ than any of the others.
What can you expect if you take a NAD+ Boosting supplement?
Well, for starters, people who had struggled with fatigue report having more energy. Those who had trouble remembering even simple things report having their memory restored and their brain fog clear. Those who had trouble focusing report feeling more alert. Those who needed a metabolic boost for weight loss report dropping pounds. Some even report that it’s reversed their grey hair. (I’m going off Amazon reviews, so…)
Is it a panacea? Probably not. Usually when people report such miraculous results, it’s because their bodies had been way out of balance before and the missing nutrient brought their bodies back into alignment.
That said, the research is very promising, and there’s good reason to believe that boosting NAD+ levels by supplementing with NR (remember, it’s a form of vitamin B3) can actually help fight cognitive decline.
Anti-Aging Supplement #6. Eat more coconut oil.
A few years back, a video about Dr Mary Newport treating her husband’s early onset Alzheimer’s with coconut oil went viral. She was eventually invited to give a TED Talk about it, which you can see below:
Coconut oil is high in MCTs (medium chain triglycerides). The working theory is that those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and Dementia (as well as other neurodegenerative diseases) have brains that work more efficiently on a diet of ketones than they do on a diet of glucose. Their brains have developed a sort of “diabetes of the brain” that leads to cellular degeneration and death of brain cells. (In fact, some researchers argue it should be called Type 3 Diabetes instead of Alzheimer’s.) In other words, brain cells stop being able to use glucose as fuel. Luckily the brain can still use ketones as fuel!
The MCTs in coconut oil are easily converted to ketones when digested by the body, thus giving the brain food.
At the time Dr Newport’s video went viral, very little research had actually been done on using coconut oil for those with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Now, however, there are multiple studies that show an improvement in patients treated with coconut oil.
Last month, researchers at John’s Hopkins University showed that they could identify changes in the brain of future Alzheimer & Dementia patients anywhere from 10 to 30 years before any minor symptoms (like minor cognitive impairment) appear. That means that dementia doesn’t just start when your memory starts going.
You should start taking daily coconut oil now! Even if you don’t notice any signs of cognitive decline, coconut oil is almost definitely worth adding to your diet in order to protect against Alzheimer’s & Dementia.
Don’t like the flavor of coconut oil? That’s okay. See my post about how to choose a good coconut oil to find the right match for you.
One thing of note: it’s important to buy sustainably-sourced coconut oil. As demand for coconut oil grows, coastal mangrove forests (which are habitats for many endangered species, and which provide valuable storm protection) are being cleared to make way for coconut tree farms. It is becoming increasingly more important to source from a natural coconut forest rather than the farms that are springing up.
Anti-Aging Supplement #7. Take Krill Oil with Astaxanthin.
Have you heard of astaxanthin? It’s what makes wild salmon red. It’s also the most powerful antioxidant on the planet — 550 times more potent than vitamin E.
Inflammation is arguably the root cause of every major chronic disease. The evidence associating inflammation with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, alzheimer’s disease, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and many other chronic illnesses continues to mount. (Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
One of nature’s many ways to combat inflammation is with anti-oxidants.
You’re probably familiar with many popular anti-oxidants — vitamin C, CoEnzyme Q-10, vitamin E.
Astaxanthin beats them all. According to this study, it’s
- 6,000 times stronger than vitamin C,
- 800 times stronger than CoQ10,
- 550 times stronger than green tea catechins, and
- 75 times stronger than alpha lipoic acid.
When studied in humans, astaxanthin was also shown to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation (source).
While you can buy astaxanthin as an isolated nutrient, it doesn’t come that way in nature. Rather, it’s usually found in marine animals like salmon, crab, lobster, and shrimp… and krill. That’s why I take it as an anti-aging supplement with krill oil.
When to start taking these anti-aging supplements.
I don’t know about you, but my come-to-Jesus moment was turning 40. I suddenly realized that if I was going to have a chance at making a lasting impact on how well I aged, I’d have to start taking these anti-aging supplements right away.
I couldn’t just keep putting it off forever, telling myself I’d do it “some day.”
Some day was now. The urgency finally hit home.
Everything I linked to in the above posts are the exact brands I take daily for myself, the same brands I’ve been taking daily for going on two years now.
You may notice some good choices that I left off this list — things like Turmeric and Coenzyme Q10. The reason they’re not on the list is simple. I don’t personally take them. If you do, that’s great. More power to you, and please feel free to share your experience with taking them in the comments!