BY KAMAL PATEL FOR EXAMINE.COM, APRIL 03, 2015
Many supplement products contain warnings or recommendations that aim the
product at a specific demographic. Energy drinks tend to be marketed toward
younger people, while joint pain supplements are primarily marketed at an older
There are two ways to think about age: biologically and chronologically.
Chronological age is the standard way of measuring time since birth. There’s no
way to reduce chronological age, outside of science fiction, which is why so
many marketers and news anchors focus on the other measurement: biological age.
Biological age refers to physical health, which can change with age. Losing
weight, improving skin and hair quality, and elevated energy levels are all
associated with a younger biological age.
Though biological age is essentially a correlation between your physical health
and your chronological age, it is the most reliable way to tell what kind of
effect a given supplement will have. Supplement effects are based on the current
health of your body, rather than how long it’s been around. For example, many
supplements aimed at older people are primarily supplements with restorative
properties, meant to repair damaged tissue. These supplements would have no
effect if taken by younger people, or by older people with no tissue damage.
Effective supplements for older people
There are a lot of clichés surrounding age, so it’s not always clear what kind
of health effects are actually associated with getting older.
Older people are more at risk for diseases and chronic conditions, since their
lifestyle has had a chance to catch up to them. Older people are more likely to
be at risk for metabolic syndrome and prediabetes, making berberine an effective
supplement (though it is not as potent as prescribed pharmaceuticals, like
Joint pain is another common complaint that manifests itself in later life.
While people of all ages may experience joint pain, anti-inflammatory
supplements like curcumin and Boswellia are particularly effective when
supplemented by older people due to the greater severity of their symptoms.
The aging process also affects the brain. Supplements intended to improve focus
and brain health, called nootropics, are more effective when supplemented by
older people because many of these supplements work by repairing tissue or
protecting it from toxins. If a person supplementing nootropics has very little
brain tissue damage to begin with, either because they’re young or their healthy
lifestyle has been paying dividends later in life, the supplement will not be
Nootropic supplements recommended for older demographics include cholinergics
like CDP-choline and building blocks for neurotransmitters like fish oil and uridine.
In fact, almost all noontropics, even blueberries, only tangibly exert their
effects when supplemented by older people. The exception may be Bacopa monnieri, which
has promising preliminary evidence for its effects.
Effective supplements for younger people
Just like certain supplements are more effective when taken by older people,
some supplements tend to be used by younger people because they are more
effective or may be too potent for older demographics. These supplements include
pre-workout stimulants and fat burners, as well as alcohol.
People with a low biological age tend to be able to handle alcohol with a lower
risk of hangover, while older adults have to be more conservative to avoid a
rough morning-after. This is true even when comparing people of different ages
that are accustomed to drinking.
Older people are also more likely to experience side-effects from stimulants and
pre-workout supplements. They may need to lower their dose to avoid discomfort,
while younger people typically have no issues with an additional scoop of
For this reason, older people supplementing pre-workouts tend to prefer
non-stimulatory compounds, like CPD-choline, or standard caloric options like
sugar and protein. Young people, meanwhile, are more likely to use caffeine
mixed with other stimulants, like yohimbine or synephrine.
Know your limits
Age really is just a number. When it comes to supplementation, your overall
health and risk of disease is a more reliable indicator of the effects of
supplements like nootropics and pre-workout stimulants than how long you’ve been
alive and kicking.