The best supplements for midlife are those that keep you healthy, provide protection from disease, help you balance hormones, help you create and burn energy efficiently, and help you stay young on a cellular level.
Sometimes people ask me what I do for my skin and these two antioxidants along with my longtime yoga practice are what has made the most difference in how I look and feel. However, if you're going to take any of these recommendations, the very best supplement for your 40's is hands down Vitamin D. More on this below.
Shopping links are below each recommendation. If you want to buy all the supplements in one go, it's easiest to shop the entire Amazon Recommended Supplements list HERE.
the best supplements for your 40's
Make your life easy-get an organizer!
Supplements do absolutely nothing for you if you never take them. This is why I take about 5 minutes every Sunday to fill up a plastic pill organizer chest to accommodate the different sizes of supplements and keep it in my kitchen, where I can easily take them after breakfast or dinner.
S-Acetyl Glutathione 200 mg daily
take in the morning
You know how when you leave an avocado out it turns brown? Gross, right? That's an example of accelerated aging. However, if you put lemon juice, which is an antioxidant, on the avocado it protects the avocado from damage from damaging exposure to oxygen; also called free-radical damage. This is an example of how if you want to protect your body on a cellular level from free radicals oxidation damage, you want to look for supplements that are powerful anti-oxidants.
Glutathione is produced in the body and is one of the most powerful antioxidants that the body makes. It protects you from damage in several areas:
- It aids the liver in toxin removal. Intravenous glutathione has been used for years to remove mercury heavy metal toxicity from the body.
- It is necessary to properly regulate mitochondrial function which is responsible for the energy output of your body.
- Glutathione reduces the damaging toxic free radicals produced as a by-product of energy production in your cells.
- It supports your immune system to work better.
- Reduces inflammation in the body.
- Protects you against an environment conducive to heart disease, cancer, & neurological conditions like Alzheimers and dementia.
There are many ways that your production of glutathione declines:
- Being overwhelmed by toxin exposure. Glutathione is produced in the liver so if your liver detoxification pathway is challenged by prescription medications, use of cosmetics with chemical additives or unsafe ingredients, consumption of seafood with heavy metal contamination (tilefish, tuna, swordfish, etc.) or even alcohol consumption your glutathione production will suffer.
- Your glutathione production naturally decreases as you age – production decreases 10% every decade. By the time you are 50; you are producing only about 2/3 the glutathione you produced in your 20's.
- Chronic stress depletes glutathione production.
- Illness depletes glutathione production.
Oral glutathione is essentially useless since the stomach degrades more than 90% of it. Glutathione has been recently formulated in the S-acetylated form at a decreased cost that remains stable and effective in the digestive tract. For this reason, only use the S-acetylated version or you as wasting your money.
Supplement with glutathione if you:
- feel tired & want more energy
- want to help your liver work better
- want heavy metal detoxification
- want added protection from sickness
- want anti-aging benefits on a cellular level
- want protection from chronic diseases
- want to improve a chronic condition that is associated with inflammation
Alpha Lipoic Acid – take the stabilized form called R Lipoic Acid (RLA) 300 mcg daily
take in the morning
Like glutathione, alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a powerful antioxidant that your body naturally produces. It also plays an essential role in optimal cellular energy production by helping your cells turn glucose (blood sugar) into ATP (energy). ALA's superpower is that it is both water and fat-soluble; which means it works in both fatty and watery environments; so your body can use it pretty much anywhere it needs it. Like glutathione, ALA also neutralizes the toxic by-products (free radicals) produced as a by-product of this energy production which can damage you on a cellular level and ‘age' you. Which less toxic cellular damage, everything works better on a cellular level, which means it fends off age-related decay at the cellular level. Here is a summary of ALA's other benefits:
- The body converts ALA it into dihydrolipoic acid (DHLA) which is another potent mitochondrial antioxidant. So taking ALA packs a two-for-one antioxidant benefit.
- ALA increases the effectiveness of vitamins C & E by ‘regenerating' them to be used again.
- It also increases levels of glutathione(see above) to help protect against age-induced mitochondrial decay; which is a fancy way of saying it keeps your metabolism running better.
- It controls inflammation
- Has been shown to protect you from forming cataracts
- It assists in blood sugar uptake and therefore helps heal insulin resistance.
- ALA protects the integrity of your skin's collagen structure. Yup, you just read that right. It keeps your skin looking younger!
- Is beneficial for nerve function. For this reason, it is used to help diabetics suffering from pain and discomfort of diabetic neuropathy.
- Like glutathione, it also helps your body detoxify heavy metals from the body and assists the liver with detoxification.
ALA is basically your new best friend in midlife. As we age, we make less and less RLA so this is one instance where taking an RLA supplement can make a lot of sense.
**NOTE**ALA has two forms. R-lipoic acid (RLA) is the natural form of ALA and the type you'll want to supplement with that is highly absorbable and effective. In my research for this article, I discovered that if you buy a regular alpha lipoic acid supplement; it is formulated with only 50% RLA. The other 50% is comprised of a form of ALA your body can't even absorb. Which is ridiculous and part of the reason why some people claim that supplements are a waste of money. I disagree, obviously, but it does mean that you HAVE TO do your homework and take the right forms that are actually effective in the body.
Like glutathione, RLA is a very unstable molecule that degrades in the digestive system and essentially becomes ineffective. This is why it is essential to supplement with a stabilized form of RLA comprised of Na-RLA (check the back label) which won’t degrade and is more bioavailable than regular RLA.
Vitamin D – the general recommendation is to take 1,000 IU’s per 25 lbs. of body weight, but always get your levels checked
take in the morning
Get your D levels checked with a'25-hydroxy test‘ or 25 (OH) blood test when you run your labs with your doctor at your yearly checkup so you know where your D level is at. Once you know where you are at you can better determine how much to take.
As a rule, if I'm spending a lot of time in the sun, I skip the D. In the wintertime I take it pretty much daily.
The goal is to optimize your vitamin D level to 70-90 ng/ml and monitor it on an ongoing basis to keep it there.
Keeping your vitamin D level optimized between 70-90 ng/ml will protect you from disease, some types of cancer including breast cancer, depression, and helps support healthy thyroid function.
Vitamin D is fat soluble so take it in the morning with a little bit of fat. (I take it in the morning with coffee which has fat in it.) It’s important to take it in the morning because it will set your internal clock ticking and cause melatonin (which makes you sleepy) to be released a set number of hours later. If you take D at night your circadian rhythm and sleep pattern can get messed up.
PLEASE take charge and beware of doctors who tell you your D levels are fine. You need to always look at your labs yourself to see where you are on the range. (and always, always take a copy of your labs home with you to put into a health binder for your own reference.) Lab reference levels often range somewhere between 30-100. Levels just above 30 are only adequate to prevent disease (rickets). If your level falls anywhere below 50 you will probably be feeling symptoms of low vitamin D: head sweating, depression, achy bones &/or a feeling of weakness, and frequent colds and infections.
Vitamin C 1,000 mg
in the morning
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that fights free-radical damage from environmental pollutants. The buildup of free radicals over time is responsible for the aging process. Free radicals may also play a role in cancer, heart disease, and conditions like arthritis. Vitamin C is also necessary for proper adrenal function and is crucial for healing stressed adrenals. Stressed adrenals are no joke. If you have adrenal fatigue double your vitamin C intake.
B 100 Complex
take in the morning
I take this for energy and to help my thyroid function. Consuming caffeine, alcohol, refined sugars, and medications like birth control pills and NSAID's deplete the body of B vitamins. Chronic stress can deplete you of your B-vitamins, too. If you are stressed or have adrenal fatigue, be sure to take your B-vitamin complex. The body cannot store B vitamins because they are water soluble, so you should take your B vitamin daily. I take a complete formula to keep it simple. Take your B in the morning so you benefit from the energy bump!
Magnesium Glycinate 400 mg
Take one in the evening 1 hour before bed. If desired, take another dose in the morning.
It has a full-body relaxing effect and can help with tension headaches. I also use it to minimize muscle soreness after workouts because it relaxes achy and tense muscles. Magnesium also helps you build bones, and its importance is often overlooked in this area. Magnesium helps regulate healthy blood pressure and um, keeps you regular. This form will not give you the runs unlike other forms of magnesium! If you eat a high fat low-carb ketogenic diet, taking magnesium will help you balance your electrolytes. Take one 1 hour before bed. The evening dose will help relax you and get you ready to sleep.
Zinc – see below for specific dosing instructions
Take it in the morning, but not with calcium or iron.
Zinc is found in all of our cells and is water soluble so you need a constant supply. Zinc is necessary for hormone production, increases hormone production if there is a deficiency, and helps the body release human growth hormone which helps the body heal itself, builds strength and stamina, and builds a healthy metabolism. Low levels of zinc can dull your sense of taste, which often means intense cravings for salty or sweet foods. If you have an intense craving for sugar, chocolate, or salty foods, especially right after eating, you may be zinc deficient. Other signs of zinc deficiency are white spots on the fingernails and an aversion to the taste of plain water. For more on zinc read my in-depth post HERE.
Zinc also helps the hormones insulin and glucose to work properly so that glucose is used for fuel and not stored as body fat, therefore zinc supplementation can help those with blood sugar, diabetes, & other metabolic issues like insulin resistance. Zinc acts as an antioxidant by fighting cellular free radical damage, which means it keeps you younger on a cellular level. It also helps optimize immune function, proper digestion, and is a powerful anti-inflammatory which is why it's so important and why I recommend taking zinc every day preferably in the morning.
Start with a 25-30 mg dose for 30 days. As long as you don't feel nauseous, you can try switching over to a 50mg capsule or tablet. Note: do not take zinc with calcium or iron as it can interfere with absorption. If zinc upsets your stomach, take it with food, but again, try to avoid dairy or food high in calcium.
take 100 mcg daily in the morning
The body relies on Vitamin K to deliver calcium to the bones. K can’t be produced from your food without the action of good healthy gut bacteria, so you may be deficient if you have digestive problems like leaky gut, IBS or Chrone’s, if your diet is poor or if you’re gut flora has been compromised by antibiotics or chemotherapy.
Besides Vitamin K’s bone-building benefits, K also removes calcium out of the blood which helps prevent dangerous calcium plaque deposits from forming in your arteries that can cause heart disease or a heart attack. Vitamin K is anti-inflammatory which delivers benefits like better gum health, lower blood pressure, and protects your brain against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Because K helps get calcium where it belongs, it also reduces the amount of calcium plaque deposits that build up on your teeth.
If you’re taking anticoagulant drugs, don’t take vitamin K supplements or increase your dietary intake without consulting your doctor.
take in the morning
Taking a good probiotic with lots of different strains of bacteria helps build a healthy gut flora which helps you properly absorb the nutrients in your food. People with poor gut bacteria are at higher risk for developing depression because the gut bacteria helps communicate with the brain via the gut-brain axis. Gut microorganisms produce and deliver serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid to the brain which is essential for healthy brain function. Gut bacteria are also responsible for producing vitamin B12, k2, and killing off harmful bacteria. Healthy gut bacteria helps keeps yeast and fungus from over-growing in your gut and wards off urinary tract infections, too. In fact, 80% of your ENTIRE immune system is located in your gut, so investing in healthy gut flora is important. Especially because antibiotics, sugar, refined carbohydrates, prescription medication, and chronic stress disrupts and degrades a healthy gut bacteria colonies. For these reasons we all would benefit from taking a probiotic, but if you have any digestive issues, depression, IBS, Chrone's, or chronic diarrhea or have anxiety, depression, PMS, or ADHD it is especially important to take a good quality probiotic. There are different types of strains of probiotics that deliver different benefits from immunity, digestion, fat burning, & hormonal balance.
Amazon supplements list
All the products I recommend from Amazon can be found on The Thrive In Midlife List – click here for convenient one-stop shopping.