If You Want to Live to 100, This Is the One Vitamin That Will Actually Make a Difference

Sophia Wesley
Sophia Wesley
9 Min Read

Ever since you took your very first Flintstone vitamin as a kid, you’ve likely had vitamins on your radar, at least in some capacity. Whether you religiously stick to a daily vitamin regimen or have yet to regularly take a multivitamin, you may be wondering if the secret to longevity might be as simple as popping a tablet or two every day.

While attaining longevity isn’t quite that simple, there are ways you can set yourself up for success. And a place you can consider starting? By taking vitamins.

Do Vitamins Really Work?

Nowadays, vitamins and supplements aren’t considered the silver bullets they once were. Vitamins have become a subject of controversy in recent years, with some doctors saying they’re useless and a waste of money. And yet, there have been a handful of studies saying that a daily multivitamin can help when it comes to cognitive decline.

“There is significant debate over whether there are any significant health benefits for routine use of vitamin supplements,” says Dr. Kenneth Koncilja, MD, of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Geriatric Medicine. “A consensus of research and most healthcare professionals would be that a well-balanced diet provides all the necessary nutrients without the need for supplements.”

Conversely, while Darnell Cox, gerontologist and healthy aging coach, agrees that vitamins can be controversial and many products lay claims that can’t be substantiated, she believes that more doctors are beginning to see the need for at least a comprehensive multivitamin and mineral supplement since our food is not being produced in the same manner it was in the past.

“Commercial farming often leaves soil depleted of essential minerals we need for optimal health,” she says. “In addition, mass production and consumption of highly processed foods which now crowd our supermarket shelves has had a detrimental effect on our health. Several studies reveal something as simple as taking a daily multivitamin can help fill in the gaps of nutritional deficiencies that can help stave off age-related diseases such as cardiovascular diseaseosteoporosis and cognitive decline. If you want to increase your health span, filling in any nutritional gaps is so important.”

So, what’s the bottom line? While more studies need to be done to prove the effectiveness of taking vitamins, you can still choose to do so as long as you do the research to make sure that the vitamins you’re purchasing are third-party tested and proven to be the high-quality supplement you’re looking for, as Dr. Garrett Seibold, DOof Utah’s Forum Health says.

Related: Want To Improve Your Brain Health? Experts Agree This Is the Most Important Supplement To Take

The Vitamin That Will Actually Make a Difference if You Want to Live to 100

According to all three of our experts, the leading vitamin for longevity is vitamin D.

“Vitamin D helps maintain bone health, which is so important as we age,” Dr. Cox says. “Falls and subsequent bone fractures can be a death sentence to seniors, with many never fully recovering. Not only does research show that vitamin D helps to strengthen bones, making falling far less dangerous, there is also research suggesting that vitamin D helps to decrease inflammation, reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, strengthen the immune system and boost mood.”

Dr. Koncilja says that 800 IUs of vitamin D is advised for adults, and he adds that this can typically be achieved through a well-balanced diet. While you can certainly take a vitamin every day, it is best absorbed through vitamin D-rich food sources. Foods with vitamin D include:

  • Mushrooms
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines
  • Red meat
  • Liver
  • Spinach
  • Milk (fortified with vitamin D)
  • Many fruit juices
  • Yogurt
  • Fortified cereal
  • Egg yolk

Dr. Seibold adds, “Sun exposure is one of the best ways to get your daily dose of vitamin D.”

If you’re getting your vitamin D primarily through vitamins, there are some things to keep in mind. For instance, taking too much vitamin D, which would be over 4,000 IUs every day, may cause dry mouth, weakness and vomiting, according to Cox. Dr. Seibold also cautions that certain blood pressure medications, cholesterol-lowering drugs, anticonvulsants and other medications should be avoided while taking vitamin D. 

And since vitamin D can cause potential harm if certain conditions exist, like kidney disease or certain cancers, Dr. Koncilja stresses the importance of discussing taking vitamin D with your primary care provider before starting a regimen.

Related: A Study of 12,000 People Found That Taking This One Supplement May Lower Your Dementia Risk by 40%

Other Vitamins That May Increase Longevity

Since B12 deficiency is widespread, as Dr. Koncilja says, it can be a wise vitamin to work into your daily routine. It’s the vitamin that’s responsible for the nervous system functioning at its very best and red blood cell formation. Dr. Koncilja adds that extra caution should be used if you regularly drink alcohol, have undergone gastric bypass surgery or have been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease. 

Vitamin B12 can be found in animal products/meats, berries and fortified cereals.

Dr. Koncilja also believes that calcium is a key vitamin that older people need, since falls with osteoporotic fractures are one the single biggest risks for older adults. While you could take 1,200 mg daily of calcium, it’s best to attain it from foods like dairy, calcium-fortified drinks, soybeans, tofu, almonds and leafy greens (spinach, kale, collard).

“You can overdose on calcium,” Dr. Koncilja warns. “It’s important to have a conversation regarding calcium with your primary care provider.”

“Other supplements I like that support healthy aging and improve longevity include a quality multivitamin, EPA/DHA containing omega-3 fatty acidmagnesium, quercetin [plant pigment or flavonoid] and resveratrol [a polyphenol that acts like an antioxidant],” says Dr. Seibold. “These specific supplements are supportive of healthy aging through a variety of mechanisms, which includes reducing inflammation in the body which is a primary driver of many of the common causes of death today.” 

Dr. Koncilja says that most multivitamins have very little risk or downside. “Individualize your nutrition by scheduling an appointment with your primary care doctor to be proactive in analyzing and optimizing how you are fueling your body,” he says.

Related: What’s the Best Time of Day To Take Multivitamins? Here Are 3 Things To Consider

Additional Healthy Habits for Living to 100

Our experts share additional healthy habits besides vitamins that should be integrated into your daily life for longevity. They include:

“I really encourage individuals to look at their lifestyle as being foundational for quality health and longevity,” Dr. Seibold says. “We live in a fast-paced world where everyone is looking for the next cheat code to level up, but ultimately, if we aren’t willing to live the type of lifestyle that is concordant with the health and vitality we are in search of, all the supplements and medications in the world aren’t going to be enough.”

Next up, discover the top sign of a vitamin D deficiency.


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