Top 5 Supplements Every Senior Should Take

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Most attempts to generalize about “today’s seniors” fail. “Seniors” range from age 55 to 116, at present. It should go without saying (but too often needs to be said) that there are active seniors, sedentary seniors, ill seniors, healthy seniors, rich seniors, poor seniors, and so on. “Banana George,” a New York senior known for his yellow attire, set the world record for barefoot water skiing five years ago, when he was 92. Chew on that.

But one truth about aging is that our bodies start to need a little extra help with every passing year. Aging bodies can lose the ability to produce or use essential chemicals, minerals and nutrients that support healthy living. So let’s look at a few of the top supplements that seniors should consider taking to keep on enjoying everyday tasks (or even barefoot waterskiing). As always, ask you physician if you have concerns about your health or whether any particular supplement is right for you. 

Best Supplements for Seniors

Fish Oil

Fish oil seems to be recommended for nearly every ailment and used as a preventative measure for nearly everything that can go wrong as we age. That’s why supplemental fish oil is an industry taking in around $1 billion a year. As with so many things in the practice of nutrition, the exact science of why fish oil does what it does is still being figured out. But what fish oil intake helps is fairly well known by now, such as helping to support cardiovascular health.

Most fundamentally, fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as the fatty acid DHA. Fish oil has been successfully used to help combat dryness in the eyes and skin. It can also lower triglycerides in individuals with elevated levels.

Other purported benefits of fish oil supplementation, such as helping with Alzheimer’s, prostate cancer and depression, are far more debatable, and these debates are easily found on the web1.

Categories: Healthy Heart

Calcium

Calcium may be the least controversial ingredient available in supplement form, and its importance is especially strong for seniors. About 99 percent of the body’s calcium is stored in the bones and teeth, where it acts as a main source of strength and support. Children are often given calcium to support bone growth. On the other side of the coin, seniors are often prescribed calcium to help prevent bone decay. Women are especially prone to post-menopausal osteoporosis, a degenerative bone disease, and have been shown to benefit from supplementary calcium. The body uses calcium for important non-bone functions, too, like hormone secretion and muscle function.

Calcium is readily available in dairy products, but many people need to cut dairy out of their diets for other health reasons, making calcium supplements a very good choice.2

Calcium is one of the 7 most important nutrients you can’t miss.

Categories: Bone and joint health

SAM-e

Like Ubiquinol, SAM-e is a chemical produced naturally in the body but replicated in the lab for those whose SAM-e levels are insufficient. SAM-e (or S-adenosylmethionine) is made from an amino acid and adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which you may know as a powerful coenzyme used by cells to transfer energy.

Early research of SAM-e done in the 1950s is interesting. Researchers believed SAM-e could help alleviate depression and were testing for that effect. While SAM-e did seem to help alleviate depression by increasing serotonin and dopamine levels, the subjects of the original study reported an unexpected improvement in symptoms related to osteoarthritis. SAM-e is generally well-tolerated and might help ease osteoarthritis pain.

Categories: osteoarthritis, depression

Probiotics

Another essential aspect of nutrition found almost exclusively in dairy products is a class of bacteria called probiotics. Probiotics are organisms that chiefly aid in digestion but have been shown to help with other issues involving bowel movements and excretory function. You’ve probably seen the word “probiotic” splashed across yogurt cartons. As with calcium, though, if you are averse to dairy for whatever reason, your probiotic intake may be less than what it should be, so taking supplemental probiotics is a good idea.

Category: dairy restrictions, digestion, excretory system

CoQ10 and Ubiquinol

CoQ10 is a natural antioxidant that aids in cellular energy exchange, promotes heart health, supports in major organ function and a host of other important physical processes. (You can read all about it in other blogs on this site.) What is especially important for seniors to know is that the active, antioxidant form of CoQ10 is called Ubiquinol. The body naturally produces CoQ10 and then converts it into Ubiquinol, which is the form the body needs in order to actually use it. As we age, our cells can lose the ability to convert CoQ10 into Ubiquinol. It’s only been in the past few years that Ubiquinol became commercially available in supplement form, but today Ubiquinol is available in many brands of easy-to-swallow oral supplements. 

Lastly, supplemental Ubiquinol is usually a good idea for the approximately 32 million Americans over the age of 45 who take statin drugs for their cardiovascular health.4 An unintended—but so far unresolved—consequence of statin therapy is that it gets in the way of the body’s natural ability to produce CoQ10. More specifically, statin drugs block a receptor the body uses to convert CoQ10 into Ubiquinol. Ubiquinol has been shown to effectively replace depleted levels of CoQ10 from statin medication use, and studies have shown that Ubiquinol promotes healthy aging in older adults.

Categories: Heart health, cardiovascular health, cellular energy, antioxidant protection

The key to staying happy and healthy as we age seems to be a complex arrangement of mental activity, physical activity, meaningful relationships and more. But we can help our bodies tremendously by taking advantage of some of the key nutritional and dietary supplements available today. Most of these supplements come in liquid form or as gummies for those who have difficulty swallowing pills, and some manufacturers now package these supplements in non-childproof bottles that are easy to open for seniors who struggle with joint pain.

Now you are ready to learn more about all the benefits of Ubiquinol.

Ubiquinol vs. CoQ10: Is There A Difference?

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Is Ubiquinol The Same As CoQ10?

For many years, there was just coenzyme Q10, also known as ubiquinone. Then there was something new on the market — Ubiquinol. What is this new form? Does it play a different role than coenzyme Q10? What are its unique benefits?

Ubiquinol and coenzyme Q10 are in fact very similar molecules. But the small alteration that makes them different is what gives them their unique role in energy production. That change also makes a big difference in the bioavailability, transportability, and antioxidant activity in the body.† Read on to learn more about all of this.

Ubiquinol vs CoQ10

The difference between Ubiquinol and CoQ10 lies in two electrons (along with the 2 hydrogen atoms, “H,” that come with the electrons). Look at the structures below – see the two lone “Os” (oxygens) of coenzyme Q10? Add the two electrons and the hydrogens and those Os turn into “OHs” (hydroxyl groups), and now you have Ubiquinol. Oh!

Not only can coenzyme Q10 switch into Ubiquinol, but Ubiquinol can just as easily give up those two electrons and hydrogens, and switch right back into coenzyme Q10. This does in fact happen many times a minute inside the body. When the electrons come on, the molecule is called “reduced,” and when they come off, it is called “oxidized.” This is why Ubiquinol is called “the reduced form of coenzyme Q10.”

So what’s the big deal? Well, this flipping back and forth between the two forms holds the key to the major role of coenzyme Q10/Ubiquinol in the body – producing energy from the food you eat. Does it get more essential? This is much like the way a car burns gas in the engine to provide the energy to keep it moving. In your body, the engines are little machines called mitochondria that are found inside almost all of your cells.

How is food turned into energy? The bonds that hold together a molecule of food, say sugar, contain lots of energy. By breaking those bonds, that energy is released and can be captured and used. The capturing mechanism is like a line of crisis workers who are quickly passing sandbags one to the next to get them to the site of use. Coenzyme Q10/Ubiquinol is like one of these workers, and what it is passing is the released energy, in the form of… electrons! So coenzyme Q10/Ubiquinol spends its day flipping back and forth as it passes electrons along to their final destination, while the energy is put into a usable form.

And you can also see how a deficiency in coenzyme Q10/Ubiquinol would have a great impact on the body’s ability to produce energy.

Which Is Better: CoQ10 or Ubiquinol?

Let’s take a look at some important properties of coenzyme Q10 versus Ubiquinol. As you may know, coenzyme Q10 is not highly absorbable in the body. But Ubiquinol is.1-8 The amount of absorption will vary based on a person’s age and state of health, but in every published comparative study that has been done, Ubiquinol has consistently been much better absorbed than coenzyme Q10.†1-6

We also said there is a difference in transportability. In fact, Ubiquinol is the form that is most preferred by the body for transport in the blood.† In a healthy adult, more than 95% of the total coenzyme Q10 in the blood is in the Ubiquinol form.†7-9 If coenzyme Q10 is ingested, the body quickly transforms it into Ubiquinol. Some people cannot perform that transition very efficiently, and therefore receive very little benefit if they take coenzyme Q10 as opposed to Ubiquinol (look for a future blog on this topic!).

Ubiquniol As An Antioxidant

Lastly, Ubiquinol acts as an antioxidant in the body, but coenzyme Q10 does not.† This is due to the two extra electrons Ubiquinol holds.10 What makes a free radical so dangerous is that it is looking to steal electrons… and it will steal them from whatever it comes in contact with – your DNA, cell membranes, cholesterol floating around in your blood. All of these become damaged and/or disease-causing when they lose their electrons! So if the electrons can come from something that doesn’t mind giving them up (like Ubiquinol), then the free radical is neutralized, everyone is happy and no damage occurs.

What’s more, Ubiquinol is one of the few antioxidants that works in the fatty (lipid) parts of the body, such as cell membranes and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.10 But one of the most important places it acts as an antioxidant is in the mitochondria themselves. This is because the mitochondria are factories for free radicals. Just as in our car analogy the engine produces exhaust (which is full of free radicals!) the mitochondria has its form of free radical-laden exhaust. Therefore, Ubiquinol has a big job protecting the mitochondria and their lipid membranes from attack.10-12 Ubiquinol also supports the whole antioxidant network in the body by recycling vitamin E, the other lipid-soluble antioxidant, and vitamin C.11,12

Now you are an expert on the differences between coenzyme Q10 and Ubiquinol. They are both critical for energy-production, but there are big differences when you look at bioavailability and transportability. In addition, only Ubiquinol acts as a rare lipid-soluble antioxidant. 

Read more about the benefits of Ubiquinol.

  1. Miles MV, Horn P, Milesc L, Tanga P, Steele P, DeGrauwa T. Bioequivalence of coenzyme Q10 from over-the-counter supplements. Nutr Res.  2002:22(8):919-929.
  2. Bhagavan HNChopra RK. Plasma coenzyme Q10 response to oral ingestion of coenzyme Q10 formulations. Mitochondrion. 2007 Jun;7 Suppl:S78-88. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17482886/
  3. Evans M, Baisley J, Barss S, Guthrie N.  A randomized, double-blind trial on the bioavailability of two CoQ10 formulations. Journal of Functional Foods. 2009. 1: 65-73.
  4. Mohr DBowry VWStocker R. Dietary supplementation with coenzyme Q10 results in increased levels of ubiquinol-10 within circulating lipoproteins and increased resistance of human low-density lipoprotein to the initiation of lipid peroxidation. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1992 Jun 26;1126(3):247-54.  https://www.integratedhealth.com/downloads/CoQ10Study.pdf
  5. Shoko D, Fujii K, Kurihara T.  The effect of the reduced form of coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinol, Kaneka  QH™ ) on QOL improvement in the elderly.  J Clin Therap Med 2008; 24:233-238.
  6. Schmelzer CNiklowitz POkun JGHaas DMenke TDöring F. Ubiquinol-induced gene expression signatures are translated into altered parameters of erythropoiesis and reduced low density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in humans. IUBMB Life. 2011 Jan;63(1):42-8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21280176/
  7. Hosoe K, Kitano M, Kishida H, Kubo H, Fujii K, Kitahara M. Study on safety and bioavailability of ubiquinol (Kaneka QH) after single and 4-week multiple oral administration to healthy volunteers. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2007 Feb;47(1):19-28.
  8. Tang PHMiles MVDeGrauw AHershey APesce A. HPLC analysis of reduced and oxidized coenzyme Q(10) in human plasma. Clin Chem. 2001 Feb;47(2):256-65.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11159774
  9. Yamashita SYamamoto Y. Simultaneous detection of ubiquinol and ubiquinone in human plasma as a marker of oxidative stress. Anal Biochem. 1997 Jul 15;250(1):66-73.  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9234900/
  10. Frei BKim MCAmes BN. Ubiquinol-10 is an effective lipid-soluble antioxidant at physiological concentrations. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990 Jun;87(12):4879-83.  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2352956/
  11. Littarru GP, Tiano L.  Bioenergetic and antioxidant properties of coenzyme Q10: recent developments.  Mol Biotechnol 2007;37(1):31-37.
  12. Ernster L, Forsmark-Andrée P. Ubiquinol: an endogenous antioxidant in aerobic organisms. Clin Investig. 1993;71(8 Suppl):S60-5.
  13. Hargreaves IPDuncan AJHeales SJLand JM. The effect of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors on coenzyme Q10: possible biochemical/clinical implications. Drug Saf. 2005;28(8):659 76.  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16048353/

† This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

Always consult with your physician before taking any supplements alone or in conjunction with pharmaceutical drugs.