What are the Essential Supplements for Athletes Over 50?

As athletes age past 50, the right supplements become crucial in supporting muscle recovery, bone health, and overall stamina. Integrating essential supplements can optimize performance, reduce the risk of injuries, and promote long-term athletic endurance.

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What are the Essential Supplements for Athletes Over 50?
4 Min Read October 2nd, 2023 Updated:May 23rd, 2024

The chorus of one popular song goes like this: "We're only getting older, babe," and every time it plays on the radio, it serves as a gentle reminder that the clock is ticking. As much as we all want to stay young forever, the reality is that time is passing by, and we have to live with it. 

That said, getting older is not something to be sad and depressed about. In fact, if you've taken good care of your mind and body, age truly is just a number, and you can feel great at 50, 60, 70, and even 80. Our aim is to help you do just that.

There are essential supplements for athletes over the age of 50 to take advantage of as they maintain physical activity. Which products should you consider getting, what kind of supplementation is beneficial, and what changes can you make? 

4 Vital Supplements for Athletes Over 50 

Now, you won't be too shocked to hear that there aren't that many major differences between supplementation for athletes in general and for those over 50. However, there are some areas that we need to focus more on as we get older, and this list of supplements that you will see below will help you do just that. 

Protein 

Whether you're looking for lactose-free products, vegan or pescetarian, you will be able to find a protein powder that suits your unique needs. With that said, as we age, it might be a good idea to return to the well-known whey protein, as it gets more rapidly absorbed by the body and contains more leucine than other protein powders. Essentially, it can be especially helpful for the process of muscle protein synthesis in older adults, as with aging, the sensitivity of your muscles to protein lowers. 

study from 2015 actually concluded that the addition of whey protein to the diet of an older adult would result in a better ability for them to achieve optimal stimulation of MPS throughout the day. 

Creatine 

Creatine is one of the most well-researched and effective supplements on the market. It helps your muscles produce more adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This molecule is used as an energy source throughout your training session and in life. So, it helps you perform better in any athletic task, including weightlifting. 

And while creatine is recommended for almost all athletes, it has some benefits geared toward older adults. Usually, after age 40, we start to lose bone mass - a natural result of aging. However, one study separated healthy strength-training males over 50 into two groups - one taking creatine and the other a placebo. At the end of the study, the group that had taken creatine had increased their bone mineral content while the others didn't, showing a clear correlation between bone mineral content, strength training, and creatine supplementation. Along with helping your physical performance, creatine can also be supplemented to boost your brain, as it helps improve cognitive function, attention, memory, and mental fatigue. 

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is an essential supplement for older people because, as we age, we're more prone to B12 deficiency. This vitamin is crucial for the metabolism of some amino acids. It plays a vital role in the delivery of oxygen to the muscles, meaning that if your body doesn't get enough vitamin B12, your muscles are unable to work properly, and your energy levels go down. 

Typically, vitamin B12 supplementation is recommended to all athletes, especially those who don't consume meat or dairy products, and the recommendation applies to older athletes as well. The good thing is that you can never overdose on vitamin B12, as it's a water-soluble vitamin that you can pee out in case there's an excess amount in your body. 

Vitamin D 

It's true that most adults living in "Western" environments don't get enough vitamin D as it is. But as we age, we get even more prone to vitamin D deficiency. In older people, the lack of proper vitamin D levels is associated with losing strength and muscle mass. Even though vitamin D might not be particularly beneficial for muscle building, it's key for regulating your body's calcium and phosphate levels, which keeps your teeth and bones strong. It also enables your muscles to work correctly. 

Even though we get vitamin D from sunlight exposure and from certain foods, getting enough vitamin D without supplementation can be a struggle, especially in the colder months of the year, which is why supplementation is usually recommended. In the U.S., nearly half of the adult population has vitamin D deficiency; the percentages are even higher in some European countries, like the U.K. 

Looking and Feeling Great as We Age

As we age, we're forced to look after ourselves even more than before if we want to keep feeling and looking great. The four supplements shared in this article are considered a must for older athletes. 

The synergy between dietary supplements and physical activity becomes increasingly evident. For active older adults, supplements fill nutritional gaps and optimize energy, muscle function, and recovery. While it's always essential to consult with a health professional before adding any supplements to one's regimen, when used judiciously, they can be a game-changer, amplifying the benefits of physical exercise and paving the way for a healthier, more vibrant aging experience.

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About the Author

Alex is a running and nutrition enthusiast and a marathon and multiple half-marathon runner.

LTC News Contributor Alex Horbach

Alex Horbach

Contributor since October 2nd, 2023

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