Multivitamin including B50 complex: For AGING WITH VITALITY, a multivitamin rich in B vitamins and minerals offers extra adrenal nutrients, thyroid nourishment, support for hormone balance, and increased energy. Aging adults have different needs for vitamin and mineral intake, especially if they have reduced absorption, which can impede the nutrients they consume reaching their tissues. It is often difficult to get everything the body needs even from a healthy, balanced, whole food diet. A specialized multivitamin can fill in dietary gaps, and it can overcome poor absorption from aging digestive systems and lower caloric intake.
In 1911, Casimir Funk, a U.S. biochemist, proposed that a pyrimidine compound cured beriberi. Since this compound appeared to be an amino acid that was “vital” to life, he named the compound a “vitamine.” The name stuck, but the “e” was dropped when it was later shown that vitamins were not amines. In time, we learned that vitamins are organic compounds present in the diet in tiny amounts and necessary for normal metabolic functioning.
Vitamins are essential nutrient molecules needed for enzymes to work in the body. Enzymes are generally proteins that speed up chemical reactions for energy production, new cell formation, fat and carbohydrate metabolism, protein synthesis, and for building new tissues. Enzymes work with coenzymes and they cannot function without their essential vitamins. The fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E and K; the body can store them in fat cells to use on demand. The water-soluble vitamins are the B-group and vitamin C. They are only stored in small amounts and they rapidly flush out of the body, so deficiencies can more readily occur. This is one important reason that we recommend a multivitamin.
Minerals are single elements that are necessary for the structure of bones, blood, hair and nails. They are also catalysts for enzymes to create chemical bonds to form new tissue or break bonds to liberate energy. Certain hormones cannot function without minerals, for example insulin cannot efficiently move glucose into cells without chromium. Minerals are categorized into those of which we need more than 100mg per day including calcium, magnesium, sodium, chloride and sulfur; and trace minerals that we need smaller amounts of like boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, silicon, vanadium, and zinc.
Aging is a process characterized by the progressive loss of tissue and organ function. There are several possible mechanisms including pre-programmed cell lifespans, environmental damage, and oxidative injury. The oxidative stress theory of aging is based on the hypothesis that age-associated functional losses are due to the accumulated damage from reactive oxygen and nitrogen species.
By the middle twentieth century, one of the leading theories of cellular aging proposed that damage to tissue metabolism occurs because of chronic assault on the body from oxidative stress due to free oxygen radicals. A balance between free radicals and antioxidants to neutralize them is necessary for healthy physiological function. Free radicals are produced naturally from cellular waste or from the environment or food, and the body is equipped to handle them. But if the number of free radicals present in the body overwhelms the body’s innate antioxidant mechanisms to disempower these unstable compounds, then the free radicals can injure tissues. This is called oxidative stress.
Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that are formed during normal metabolic processes, such as clearing cellular waste, exercise, mounting an inflammatory response; or from exposure to external environmental sources such as air pollutants, drugs, and industrial chemicals. These unstable oxygen molecules have split into single atoms with unpaired electrons. Since electrons like to exist in pairs, these free radicals roam the body to seek out other electrons to pair with. This attachment of rogue oxygen to the electrons of molecules in the tissues causes oxidative damage to cells, lipids, proteins, and DNA.
Several age-related conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, atherosclerosis, cataract formation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic kidney disease, neurodegenerative diseases, muscle wasting, and frailty are related to oxidative damage to proteins, lipids, and DNA. Research confirms the hypothesis that antioxidants function by scavenging then binding up or neutralizing damaging free oxygen radicals, to protect against cellular destruction and aging. Given the weighty role of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of many clinical conditions and aging, antioxidant therapy can positively change the natural history of major chronic degenerative diseases.
Aging with vitality means maintaining optimal energy, digestion, muscle mass, and reducing tissue degeneration. This is aided by good stress management. Healthy aging is an intricate balance between many body systems which are susceptible to imbalance by stress. Heightened stress levels cause a corresponding jump in stress hormones, including cortisol, DHEA, and adrenaline. Increased stress overstimulates the adrenal glands, which then produce excessive or inadequate amounts of these hormones.
The vitamin B-50 complex comprises 50 mg each of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6. It provides extra adrenal support and thyroid nourishment, is essential for carbohydrate breakdown, releasing stored energy from food, and for protein formation. B-complex vitamins slow age-related disorders by helping the body to metabolize carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Vitamin B6 also works together with vitamin B12 and folic acid in several heart protective actions: They reduce homocysteine, a natural waste molecule produced in normal metabolism. If homocysteine is made in excess, it can damage the endothelial cells that line arteries risking cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, stroke, migraines, macular degeneration, hearing loss, brain neuronal degeneration, and possibly Alzheimer’s disease. People with low levels of P5P, the active form of vitamin B6 which helps to clear homocysteine, have a five times higher chance of having a heart attack.
Vitamin B6 gently lowers blood pressure, protects bad LDL cholesterol from oxidative damage that could make it stick in arteries, and reduces platelet clumping and the risk of blood clots. Ample tissue levels of the B vitamin group, along with carotenes and selenium, are also necessary for stable hormone levels. Maintaining steady hormone output, including cortisol, insulin, testosterone and glucagon, helps to shield the body from the influence of stress. B vitamins are water-soluble: the body is unable to store them and to achieve ample tissue levels they must be included in the diet or boosted with supplementation for a fully functioning metabolism.
Vitamin C is an important cofactor for adrenal gland function, as it needed for the adrenals to manufacture their stress-managing hormones including cortisol, which is essential for life but if deficient or excessive can speed tissue damage and aging. Therefore vitamin C protects against aging and is a treatment for adrenal fatigue. When stress subsides, hormone levels should stabilize, but if elevated hormone levels remain for prolonged periods of time, negative effects can accumulate. Both an excess and deficiency of cortisol destabilizes blood sugar and thyroid function, potentially leading to weight gain or loss, high or low blood sugar, and a slowed metabolism.
Cortisol has an intricate relationship with the hormone insulin, which controls blood sugar. If cortisol levels stay high for too long, the cells can become resistant to insulin. In turn, this may lead to an increase in blood sugar and weight gain. If the adrenals eventually become exhausted, and unable to sustain normal daily cortisol rhythms, then cortisol levels can drop excessively, causing low blood sugar levels and a cycle of weight loss and a low stress tolerance. Cortisol also facilitates optimal thyroid gland function. Thyroid hormones are essential to maintain the body’s entire metabolic rate including energy, mood, bowel function, skin and hair, and temperature regulation. Both high and low cortisol levels can impair the conversion of thyroid hormone from its inactive form to its active T3 form. This can result in low thyroid function, with weight gain, fatigue, dry aging skin, and depression.
Vitamin C also shields the body against lipid peroxidation, which is damage to essential fats in cell membranes, caused by free radicals and reactive oxygen species. Vitamin C can protect the function of heart artery endothelium, the linings of arteries, helping the arteries to dilate to improve coronary blood flow. It can also stabilize peripheral blood vessel linings, to gently reduce high blood pressure and help prevent varicose veins. In smokers, vitamin C reduces the inflammatory marker plasma C-reactive protein by 24%. In addition, vitamin C helps the regeneration of other antioxidants such as vitamin E. It is promising for disorders associated with oxidative damage, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, cataract, macular degeneration, cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, and for reducing the risk of blood clots, heart attack, and stroke, because of its potent antioxidant actions.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient that is critical for the formation of collagen, the main structural protein in connective tissue, cartilage and tendons, and necessary for skin, bone, and joint health, and for wound healing. In addition, vitamin C has a crucial role in the health of the inner ear, eye and retina, and the gums. For gingivitis, vitamin C reduces gum bleeding and helps reverse periodontal disease. It also helps with absorption and utilization of iron and folic acid. In all these ways, vitamin C protects tissue vitality, helps to stabilize stress hormones, and thus also supports healthy blood sugar balance. It is therefore a crucial nutrient for aging with vitality.
Natural carotenes are a group of red, orange, and yellow pigments found in the chloroplasts and chromoplasts of plants including fruits, vegetables, algae, and whole grains. They shield plants from sun-induced free radical damage, providing powerful protection for a lifetime in the sun. Plant carotenoids are water-soluble and do not accumulate in our bodies, so toxicity is almost unheard of. More than five hundred carotenoids are known, some of which convert into active vitamin A in our tissues.
Carotenes including lutein have a key role in aging with vitality: Along with other antioxidants such as vitamin C and selenium, they help protect all cells and tissues from scavenging free radicals, reduce oxidative stress and cell damage, and decrease harmful lipid peroxides. They boost the cells’ own protective glutathione levels, and enhance the actions of superoxide dismutase and catalase enzymes. These are enzymes that neutralize or block cell damage from superoxide, a major one of the reactive oxygen species that form in cells during metabolism and increase with stress. Higher tissue levels of carotenes are protective against many degenerative conditions, including heart disease, several types of cancer, diabetes, cataracts, macular degeneration, arthritis, and skin damage.
In a four-week intervention study, sixty-four healthy, nonsmoking men were given high intakes of carotenoids and vitamin C. The men showed a notable reduction in plasma C-reactive protein and inflammatory markers, as well as improved immunologic indicators such as the number and activity of natural killer cells, secretion of cytokines, and lymphocyte proliferation.1,2,3
Selenium is a trace mineral found in rich soils; the natural selenomethionine form is common in plants. Selenium is a cofactor for the enzymes glutathione peroxidase and catalase in the antioxidant defense system, and it also calms autoimmune activity. It protects the thyroid from damage and over-stimulation by iodine, and is needed as both an antioxidant and for optimal hormone function. Selenium also seems to boost sense of well-being and mood. The mineral selenium, in combination with vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenes, significantly diminishes oxidative damage to cholesterol, making it less sticky, and thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and blood clots. Selenium is essential for healthy aging, as it prevents tissue damage from oxidative or autoimmune causes, and supports endocrine function.
Bioflavonoids are plant pigments that give fruits and flowers their colors. They are essential for protecting many tissues against age-related decline. Citrus flavonoids including rutin and hesperidin are documented to optimize capillary permeability, which means the capillaries allow just the right amounts of fluid and electrolytes to cross into and out of their walls. Bioflavonoids also help varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and can reduce bruising and calm allergies. Flavonoids, as well as vitamin C, were discovered by the biochemist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi who received the Nobel Prize for identifying their benefits.
Bioflavonoids are crucial building blocks for collagen, the body’s basic connective tissue protein, and thus they are very important for healing after injury or surgery. For gingivitis, bioflavonoids strengthen the collagen matrix by cross-linking collagen strands to improve capillary integrity. They actually help to raise vitamin C levels in tissues, which protects against free radical injury, and further helps to form collagen and to block enzymes that could cleave it apart. Bioflavonoids help maintain and rebuild healthy gum tissue, and are protective against glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and against loss of night vision. In these many ways, bioflavonoids play a key role in healthy aging.
Vitamin D3 has numerous far-reaching benefits for reducing age-related ailments. It offers bone density support and is associated with decreased occurrence of fractures, especially when taken with vitamin K, boron, silica, and calcium.5 Also vitamin D3 is well-documented to reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, MS, asthma, chronic immune disorders, and low testosterone, not because it is a panacea but due to its being a building block for many important mediators in the body. Vitamin D3 is an effective mood supporter, particularly for SAD during darker weather.
A large body of epidemiological evidence suggests that ingesting rich amounts of vitamins and minerals brings significant disease protection. In observational studies, people with higher intakes of antioxidant vitamins generally have a lower risk of major chronic disease, such as myocardial infarction or stroke, than people with reduced intakes.4
In our clinic, most of our patients over 50 choose to take a multivitamin-mineral with anti-aging properties. We always prefer one with the full range of purely natural mixed carotenoids, including naturally-occurring carotene isomers which are all potent antioxidants, alpha-carotene, zeaxanthin, cryptoxanthin and lutein. We will not use any product with synthetic beta-carotene which has been shown to be relatively ineffective and potentially unsafe. We avoid large doses of animal-source vitamin A for patients over 50, as that can detract from bone density. We emphasize a B-50 complex for adrenal, thyroid, blood sugar, and weight support, and to boost energy and endurance. Since both vitamins and minerals are food derivatives, they will feel better in the stomach and be more efficiently absorbed when taken with meals.
Recommendation: A multivitamin formula including a B-50 complex, specifically thiamin (vitamin B1) 50mg, riboflavin (vitamin B2) 50mg, vitamin B3 (as non-flush inositol hexaniacinate) 50mg, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) 50mg, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine HCL) 50mg. We also like to see folic acid 500mcg, vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin) 75mcg. And vitamin C 400-600mg buffered with calcium or magnesium and rosehips; citrus bioflavonoids 150-200mg, including rutin and hesperidin; natural mixed carotenes 5000IU; selenium in the form of L-selenomethionine 70-80mcg; iodine ideally from sea vegetables such as kelp 70-80mcg; vitamin D2 at least 200IU; vitamin K 10-15mcg. Take these totals daily, with meals, or as directed by your health care provider.
- Watzl, Bernhard, et al. “A 4-wk intervention with high intake of carotenoid-rich vegetables and fruit reduces plasma C-reactive protein in healthy, nonsmoking men.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 82.5 (2005): 1052-1058.
- Ford ES, et al. “C-reactive protein concentration and concentrations of blood vitamins, carotenoids, and selenium among United States adults.” Eur J Clin Nutr 2003;57:1157–63.
- Lopez-Garcia E, et al. “Major dietary patterns are related to plasma concentrations of markers of inflammation and endothelial dysfunction. Am J Clin Nutr 2004; 80:1029–35.
- Thomas, David R. “Vitamins in aging, health, and longevity.” Clinical interventions in aging 1.1 (2006): 81.
- Fairfield KM, Fletcher RH. Vitamins for chronic disease prevention in adults-scientific review. JAMA. 2002;287:3116–26.
- Murphy SP, White KK, Park S-Y, Sharma S. Multivitamin-multimineral supplements’ effect on total nutrient intake. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:280S-284S.
- Liguori, Ilaria, et al. “Oxidative stress, aging, and diseases.” Clinical interventions in aging 13 (2018): 757.