If You're Over 50, Start Taking This Brain-Boosting Supplement Now
Many people struggle to get enough of this vitamin through their diets, experts say.
Sound nutrition and general health go hand in hand. After all, vitamins and minerals are essential for every last body function, and deficiencies can cause a wide range of health problems. However, there are drawbacks to building a health regimen around dietary supplements, which can come with side effects and risks. To further complicate matters, experts warn that "some supplements are effective, while others are not." With so many conflicting messages, you're not alone if you're left wondering which products do more harm than good, and which do any good at all.
The good news? While you should always discuss your particular dietary needs with the help of a doctor, certain supplements are considered low-risk and high-reward. And, as you age, there are clear perks to a few products in particular, including one brain-boosting supplement that's especially beneficial if you're over 50. Read on to find out which supplement deserves a spot on your shopping list, and what it can do for your health.
Past the age of 50, your body may need additional supplements.
Experts warn that as you age, you may increasingly experience malabsorption of essential vitamins and minerals. This means that despite eating a well-rounded diet consisting of all the right foods, your body may become less able to absorb and use nutrients. Experts say that for many people, this begins to take place after turning 50, so it may be useful to incorporate certain dietary supplements into your daily routine.
One vitamin is considered especially important for people over 50, experts say.
Vitamin B-12 is essential for maintaining healthy brain function and developing healthy red blood cells. Yet as you age, your body may become less able to extract the vitamin from food sources. "Some people over age 50 have trouble absorbing the vitamin B12 found naturally in foods. They may need to take vitamin B-12 supplements and eat foods fortified with this vitamin," writes the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
While both men and women over 50 require the same amount of vitamin B-12 per day (2.4 micrograms), women may benefit more from supplements since they often have more difficulty absorbing the vitamin from food. As a result of inadequate vitamin B-12 levels, many senior women suffer from vitamin deficiency anemia.
You should still strive to get vitamin-B12 from your diet.
Jason Ewoldt, RDN, LD, a wellness dietitian for the Mayo Clinic's Healthy Living Program, recommends taking these supplements if you're over 50, but says to still strive to pack your diet with foods rich in B-12. "The best sources of vitamin B-12 are eggs, milk, lean meats, fish and fortified foods like cereals and grains," advises Ewoldt. "Vegans, in particular, will need to choose more fortified foods, but even elderly people who eat all foods may have difficulty absorbing enough vitamin B-12," he says, adding that fruits and veggies are also important parts of a well-balanced diet.
Ewoldt also recommends staying well-hydrated, since vitamin B-12 is water soluble (meaning it dissolves in water, not fat). "Make sure to drink plenty of water, even if you don't feel thirsty. Carry a water bottle, and drink a glass with every meal," he suggests.
Vitamin B-12 is safe to take, but you should still talk to your doctor first.
While many vitamin supplements come with risks of side effects, the NIH says that vitamin B-12 supplements are considered safe at recommended doses. "Vitamin B-12 has not been shown to cause any harm, even at high doses," the NIH writes. "Your body absorbs only as much as it needs, and any excess passes through your urine," the Mayo Clinic adds.
However, Clinic experts note that you should speak with your doctor before beginning any new regimen that includes dietary supplements. In particular, be sure to discuss any other medications you may be taking to reduce your risk of drug interactions.