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The 5 Best, Most Critical Vitamins And Supplements To Take At Any Age

Photo: Unsplash: Omar Lopez
What Vitamins Should I Take? The 5 Best Dietary Supplements For Men & Women Of Any Age

One secret to good health is knowing the best vitamins and supplements to take in order to promote well-being any age.

After all, you're never too young or too old to take better care of your body and your mind.

If you're like most people today, the pressure of your daily schedule often makes it difficult to plan and eat nutritious meals. Junk food is tempting when you're rushed or in a hurry, and snacking in the kitchen at work may be just as tempting as walking by a vending machine filled with candy.

I know that for me, at least, finding the time and energy to cooking in the evenings during the work week is highly unlikely. The deli counter of my local grocery store becomes my best friend and personal chef when I run out of leftovers from the weekend or don't purposely plan and prepare meals in advance for the rest of the week on Sunday.

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Taking vitamins and dietary supplements is a great way to make sure your body gets all of the nutrients it needs, and doing so supports all aspects of physical and mental health, as well as positive aging.

As with all vitamins, supplements, and prescription medications, consult your physician before you begin taking anything new, as one or any of the recommendations below may have negative effects if you have certain medical conditions or are taking prescription medications. Also be aware that some foods interfere with medications and supplements, and vice versa.

In the absence of being able to eat nutritious, balanced meals every single day, here are 5 of the best vitamins and supplements for men and women to take at any age.

1. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an old standby. Benefits include anti-oxidant qualities that support the immune system, help with wound healing, and support strong bones and teeth. Growing up in the Midwest where the winters were brutal and colds and flu prevalent, taking Vitamin C supported my immune system. I was fortunate to avoid the sniffles and the flu most years. As I became older, the annual flu vaccination, also helped.

Benefits for pain are also associated with taking Vitamin C. Studies published in the Journal of Translational Medicine and the Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery propose that Vitamin C can be a safe and effective therapy for acute and chronic pain after surgery for foot and ankle fractures and other trauma, treatment of infectious diseases, and pain related to a cancer diagnosis. The findings also indicate benefit in reducing the need for opioids used for pain management.

Vitamin C comes in several forms, the first being the most obvious — eating an orange. When you tire of eating oranges, take a supplement or drink your Vitamin C. Vitamin C comes in pill form and in liquid form. A packet of Emergen-C mixed with a glass of water delivers 1000 mg of Vitamin C. The recommended dosage varies by individual. You may be taking too much Vitamin C if you experience loose stools or stomach upset.

2. Calcium + Vitamin D

The old wives’ tail was that Vitamin D was the sunshine vitamin and that being outside would take care of the body’s need for this important supplement. With worry today about sun damage and skin cancer, taking a supplement may be the best plan to receive proper amounts of Calcium and Vitamin D.

As we age, we become more likely to experience fractures and osteoporosis that limits mobility. By taking a Calcium and Vitamin D supplement, it is possible to prevent fractures and bone loss. Bone density testing that can begin as early as the age of 50 if there is a concern about bone loss or a family history of bone loss.

My mother was diagnosed with osteoporosis and experienced multiple bone fractures. In her fifties, she had the beginnings of a hunched back and a stooped over posture. Because of this, I had my first bone density test at age 50. Being proud that I was taking vitamins, I was surprised to learn that I was on my way to osteoporosis, as well.

The condition identified by my bone density exam, called osteopenia, meant that my bones were weak, but not at the point at which they would break easily. Rather than taking a prescription drug, my physician advised a higher dosage of Calcium and Vitamin D and weight bearing exercise to support bone strength.

And if you prefer to eat or drink your Calcium and Vitamin D try these foods: tuna, liver, cheese, egg yolks, yogurt, milk, and figs.

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3. Vitamin B Complex

B Vitamins are a family of vitamins that have a number of benefits. B Vitamins support a healthy immune system, the adrenal system that works to reduce stress and anxiety, prevent anemia, balance depressive moods and support cognitive health to avoid dementia.

A positive functioning adrenal gland is important for persons who are constantly on the go and under stress. It helps control blood sugar, burns protein, and fat.

In high stress mode, we may be more irritable or experience depression. Elevated cortisol levels are an effect of high functioning adrenal glands. The thyroid, another gland that has widespread effects on the body is affected by high use of cortisol. It is common for many women experience a too fast or a too slow thyroid, that throws off hormones and results in many other negative symptoms.

The Bs of B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12 all have different functions to support well-being. While B vitamins are beneficial for everyone, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, individuals under constant stress, and older adults may benefit more from taking B vitamins.

Food sources of vitamin B include beef liver, trout, and sirloin.

4. Omega 3 Fatty Acids

The eyes and the heart are benefactors of Omega 3 Fatty Acids. My ophthalmologist suggested this supplement to help my frequently dry eyes and to prevent the possibility of macular degeneration and glaucoma. For pregnant women, taking Omega 3 Fatty Acids is believed to help in the vision development of infants.

For heart health, this supplement reduces cholesterol readings and fatty build-up in the arteries that may result in heart disease and stroke.

The Mayo Clinic suggests eating fish several times a week, but if fish isn't one of your favorite foods or is hard to find in the store because of where you live, you can take a supplement.

The most common thing people dislike about Omega 3 Fatty Acids is that they smell like fish and may cause acid reflux. And because most capsules are coated, it's important to take the supplement with food so that the capsules break down and digest.

Which leads us to important supplement number five, which supports digestive health.

5. Digestive Enzymes and Probiotics

As we age, our digestive system weakens and it is more difficult for our bodies to absorb the nutrients in foods, vitamins, and prescription medications. Taking a digestive and a probiotic together supports digestive health and feelings of physical well-being.

A happy digestive system helps avoid bloating, gas, heartburn, diarrhea, and constipation. And if you’ve ever wondered about cracked or peeling fingernails, poor digestion may be the cause.

The enzymes in digestive enzymes — lipase, amylase, protease, and nuclease — are also believed to support weight loss as digestive functions improve. Incomplete digestion can contribute to weight gain. While the enzymes are not a direct recommendation for losing weight, you may find that you feel less boated and have more energy.

Increasing health literacy, by learning more about how vitamins and supplements benefit the body and mind, supports positive aging.

Research today allows us to be more proactive about our health than our parents and grandparents.

Choose to be proactive today about your health so that you are more active and healthy in your later years.

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Pamela D. Wilson, MS, BS/BA, CG, CSA, is a caregiving advocate who supports family caregivers and professionals working in healthcare, elder law, and financial planning. Subscribe to her free caregiving library for access to articles, podcasts, and videos.