The 6 Best Supplements for Longevity and Healthy Aging

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Can taking certain supplements regularly magically increase your lifespan? It’s complicated.

Or as Kim Yawitz, RD, more sums it up: “The five most important behaviors for long-term health and longevity (according to a large 2013 study) are never smoking cigarettes, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol intake, working out regularly , and sleeping at least seven hours per 24-hour period. Yawitz adds that if you’re not doing these five things for the long-haul, “then taking supplements for longevity is like putting premium gas in a beat-up car with three flat tires and a bad clutch.”

Indeed, as Yawitz emphasizes, no single supplement will help you live longer. Still, “there’s some evidence that certain supplements could help support healthy aging—assuming you eat pretty well, work out, and take good care of yourself.”

So how can supplements potentially help promote longevity?

“Some supplements are thought to prevent or even reverse biochemical changes associated with aging, such as cellular damage, decreased cellular energy, and DNA mutations,” Yawitz says. “Others target systemic inflammation—a major contributor to life-shortening conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.”

While supplements aren’t a panacea, when coupled with the aforementioned five behaviors, the research on them certainly seems promising.

When looking for supplements, there are some important guidelines to keep in mind, especially since “there’s not a lot of oversight in the supplements’ industry, so it can be tricky to know for sure if health claims on product labels are legit,” says Yawitz. That’s why she recommends people look for supplements that have a third-party tested symbol (such as NSF or Informed Choice) on the label. “This means that the manufacturer has paid for an independent lab to test the product for purity and to ensure that the nutrient data on the label is accurate,” she says.

Another important note: “Checking with your doctor or pharmacist before starting a supplement can help prevent harmful drug interactions, particularly if you take prescription or over-the-counter medications,” says Yawitz.

With all this in mind, let’s take a look at six supplements experts say may help support longevity when combined with a healthy lifestyle.

Did you know that this mineral relieves constipation, cravings, and headaches —but 68 percent of people don’t get enough of it? In general, magnesium is found in high-fiber foods like dark leafy greens and seaweeds. You can also get it from broccoli, squash, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

“Magnesium is involved in more than 300 different chemical reactions in your body, including DNA repair and energy production,” says Yawitz. “Studies have linked low dietary magnesium intake with increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, inflammation, and certain types of cancer,” she continues, adding that, in theory, taking a supplement could promote longevity if you’ re among the estimated 60 percent of adults who don’t get enough magnesium through the diet.

Popping a few cloves of garlic a day rank pretty low on your to-do list? “A large, recent study linked daily consumption of raw garlic with a lower risk of death. But if you don’t love the taste of raw garlic (or, you don’t love the idea of ​​becoming notorious for your bad breath), a garlic supplement might help protect you against heart disease and stroke,” says Yawitz. “In one study, adults with high blood pressure who took garlic supplements every day lowered their systolic and diastolic blood pressure by about nine points and six points, on average. And in another meta-analysis, adults who used garlic supplements for two months had 10 percent reductions in LDL (‘bad’) and total cholesterol.”

Some important notes: “Garlic supplements have an anticoagulant effect, so taking it with a prescription blood thinner could lead to excessive bleeding,” says Yawitz. And another thing to consider is that “there’s some evidence that enteric-coated garlic capsules aren’t well-absorbed,” says Yawitz, so that’s why she usually recommends either a non-enteric coated pill or garlic extract powder to those interested in trying a supplement. Of course, mixing some extra minced garlic cloves into your next vinaigrette isn’t a bad idea either.

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Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN)

It’s a mouthful to pronounce, but may very well be a supplement worth adding to your radar. “Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) is a derivative of vitamin B3 that’s become a bit of a supplement darling in recent years,” offers Yawitz. “Supplementing with NMN can triple the production of NAD+, a substance that’s involved in DNA repair, cellular energy production, and other processes important for healthy aging.”

An important caveat is that there aren’t many human studies on this substance quite yet, though “animal studies suggest that NMN supplements could lower the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses.” To get NMN through your diet, load up on edamame, broccoli, cabbage, cucumber, and avocado, which naturally contains the molecule, per the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The sunshine vitamin is another supplement worth considering adding to your routine. In addition to absorbing vitamin D through sunlight, it’s also found in salmon, swordfish, and fortified orange juice, dairy milks, and plant-based milks. “This is a nutrient of public health concern, which means that most Americans do not get enough of it, per the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, in Stamford, CT.

“The nutrient is important for bone health, immunity, and more,” says Gorin, adding that in many cases, a daily supplement of 1,000 IU is beneficial, but there are situations such as severe vitamin D deficiency in which larger amounts are warranted. “Because taking in too much vitamin D via supplements has been linked with negative effects like higher risk of bone fractures in the elderly, you’ll want to talk to a trusted healthcare provider before making any supplement changes.”

Brittany Lubeck, MS, RD, consultant for Oh So Spotless, notes this oft-overlooked supplement as playing a potential role in supporting longevity. “Selenium is a trace-mineral that you may not have heard of before. It’s thought to have antioxidant effects that can help reduce the risk of many common diseases associated with aging,” Lubeck. “Although, because it is a trace-mineral (meaning you don’t need as much of it as other vitamins and minerals) it’s recommended that selenium levels be kept at a maintenance level in your body, as having too much could be detrimental to your longevity efforts.” To get more selenium in your diet, fish, eggs, and turkey, among other foods, are rich in selenium. Incorporate whole grains and dairy into your routine for good sources of selenium, too.

B12 is in beef, liver, chicken, seafood, and eggs, and it’s also fortified into some foods like cereals and plant-based milks. You may not be getting enough of it from your diet (especially if you’re vegetarian or vegan). “Many people don’t know that after age 50 or so, your body may have a more difficult time absorbing vitamin B12 from food sources. After this age, your stomach secrets less hydrochloric acid, which is what’s responsible for helping your body separate vitamin B12 from protein in the foods you eat,” says Gorin. “So at this point in time, you’ll want to consider taking a supplement. Vitamin B12 is important for many necessary body functions, including production of red blood cells and proper maintenance of the central nervous system.”

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