So you’ve hit the big five-o and you’re thinking you might need to start taking care of your health – just to make sure you finish your next five decades with all your relevant bits intact.
Do you need a specific multivitamin targeted to your age group, or can you just go with a standard multi? To help you decide we have crunched the data on Blackmores Proactive Multi for 50+, Nature’s Own Mega Potency 50+, Swisse Men’s Ultivite 50+ and Centrum for Men 50+ as well as their standard multivitamin offerings.
Let’s get the first question out of the way; taking a supplement targeted at 50+ is definitely going to be beneficial. The body needs of a twenty five year old man are quite a bit different to those of someone double that age. Testosterone drops by more than 1% every year, and the body’s ability to bounce back from the excesses of youth gets less and less with each passing decade.
So yes, if you can afford a little extra go with one that is targeted to your age group. But which of the 50+ supplements should you choose?
All of the brands we reviewed have scored five stars in getting their vitamin A, B and C’s in order. All of them exceed the Australian Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for men over fifty in A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, Folic Acid, B12 and C.
Nature’s Own does not include any B7 (biotin), but is unique in the group in including B8 (inositol). Like most of the B group vitamins, B7 helps with energy production and can be readily sourced through a few good serves of nuts seeds and eggs. B8 helps with serotonin regulation and is useful for helping to combat anxiety, not that we think you need to be anxious about getting old. Not at all!
Vitamin D is a more mixed bag with only Centrum hitting the full RDI of 20mcg. Blackmores has half that amount and Nature’s Own and Swisse come in at just 5mcg each. Vitamin D deficiency is surprisingly common in Australia, but is easily fixed with around 20 minutes of sunshine on your body – yes, without sunscreen – each week.
Blackmores, Swisse, Nature’s Own and Centrum all exceed the RDI for vitamin E. A serve of some sunflower seeds and nuts will also help to supplement any shortfall. With studies suggesting vitamin E assists in maintaining a healthy neurological health and possibly even prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Swisse and Centrum are the only two brands that include vitamin K in their 50+ mix. Vitamin K is important for bone health, blood clotting and uptake of calcium. Swisse has the full RDI of 70mcg, while Centrum includes 20mcg.
Only Blackmores has included 1mg of Boron in their product. Boron helps with bones, testosterone production and mental acuity, all of which tend to be areas that men over fifty will want to consider.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and has an RDI of 1000mg per day rising to 1300mg for Australian men over seventy years old. Centrum is the only brand that has a decent amount of this important mineral included in its mix at 250mg. Blackmores has 60mg, Nature’s Own has 50mg and Swisse just 10mg. Clearly you’ll need to look elsewhere for your calcium needs; a glass of milk will give you 100mg, a serve of salmon around 300mg and a cup of tofu will top 750mg.
Blackmores, Swisse and Centrum all exceed the 35mcg RDI for chromium and Nature’s Own delivers around 70% of it. Chromium deficiency is pretty rare in Australia, with shellfish, pears, tomatoes and brazil nuts also containing a healthy dose of this mineral.
Swisse is the only brand to include the full 1700mcg RDI for copper. Centrum has 500mcg, Nature’s Own 128mcg and Blackmores has none. Copper works with iron in the creation of red blood cells and also helps with heart and bone health.
Swisse, Centrum and Blackmores all meet or exceed the Australian RDI for iodine. Nature’s Own does not include iodine in its 50 plus tablets, but if you enjoy your sushi and eat bread supplemented with iodine you will almost certainly be getting enough.
Iron is important for creating red blood cells and energy production. That said, general consensus is the average male should not take heavy supplementation of iron, as it is does build up in the body and is hard to get rid of (unless you donate blood regularly).. Blackmores, Nature’s Own and Swisse all include 5mg of iron against an RDI of 8mg. Centrum has a smaller 2mg amount. A single steak or a serve of lentils or beans will deliver around 6mg.
Magnesium has a 420mg per day RDI and is essential not just for bone building but also for more than 300 different chemical reactions in the body including the creation of nitric oxide which is needed for strong erections. Nuts, avocadoes, dark chocolate and dark leafy greens are all good sources of magnesium, which is good because none of the brands we review have a particularly large amount included in their tablets. Centrum has the highest dose at 125mg, Nature’s Own has 50mg, Blackmores 40mg and Swisse just 7.5mg. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 46% of men over fifty have an inadequate intake of magnesium, rising to more than 63% for men over 70.
All brands include some manganese in their tablets for men over fifty. Manganese helps to reduce inflammation, form healthy bones and is a component of an important antioxidant called superoxide dismutase. Swisse has the largest amount of manganese with 4mg against an RDI of 5.5mg, followed by Centrum with 3mg. Nature’s Own and Blackmores are both less than 2mg.
Molybdenum is an essential mineral for production of a range of different enzymes and energy production. Deficiency is rare and it is easily absorbed from nuts, legumes, beans and dairy. Swisse and Centrum are the only brands to include molybdenum in their tablets and both deliver the full 45mcg RDI. Molybdenum is toxic in high doses but, don’t worry, you would need to consume twenty tablets a day to hit the 2000mcg upper limit.
Other than calcium, phosphorus is the most plentiful mineral in the body. Appropriate levels of phosphorus are important to maintain healthy bones, provide energy and to assist in the uptake of certain vitamins and other minerals. Blackmores is the only brand to include some of this essential mineral but with just 46mg compared to an RDI of 1000mg this isn’t going to be a deciding factor for most men. In contrast, a single serve of chicken or pork will provide more than 400mg of phosphorus.
Potassium is an essential mineral, helping the nervous system, muscular contraction, regulation of blood pressure and waste removal. Potassium deficiency is rare and only Nature’s Own includes a touch of it in their plus fifty tablet. At 153mcg against an RDI of 3800mcg, it is unlikely to make much of a difference for most men, and is really just a tick-the-box exercise. Eating a banana, for example, will provide you with thirty times more potassium than Nature’s Own has included here.
Selenium is only needed in small doses but is critical for a range of bodily processes and studies have also shown supplementation can reduce the overall incidence of some cancers. Blackmores has the highest amount with 50mcg against an RDI of 70mcg. Nature’s Own and Swisse have 26mcg. Centrum has none, which is odd because it does include it in its standard men’s mutivitamin.
Silicon is another mineral that is important for bone, hair and nail health as well as assisting with some digestive disorders. Blackmores includes 18mg in its Proactive Multi for 50+. The other brands have none. There is no set RDI for silicon but dosages less than 40mg are generally prescribed as safe.
Zinc is critical for helping to fight off bacteria and viruses as well as testosterone production. The Australian RDI for zinc is 14mg with an upper recommended limit of 40mg. Swisse has 20mg, Blackmores and Nature’s Own have 15mg and Centrum has 11mg. If you enjoy seafood, a half dozen oysters will give you a 32mg hit of zinc in one go.
Nature’s Own and Swisse have a long list of extracts included in their tablets. Although the majority of these are well below what could be considered a therapeutic dose, there are a few inclusions worth noting.
Swisse has 1000mg of cranberry extract which has been clinically proven to assist with prostate health as well as regulation of urine flow and reducing nighttime urination. Clinical trials used 1500mg, but Swisse’s inclusion of two thirds of this amount is a reasonable dose for men over fifty. Nature’s Own includes just 100mg which is less likely to have much effect.
Swisse and Nature’s Own both include gingko which has been shown to be helpful in boosting circulation and with that brain and assisting with sexual function (more blood helps…well, you get the picture). At 1000mg, Swisse is a lot higher than the dosage used in many studies. While there is no official upper limit set for this powerful herb, Nature’s Own’s inclusion of 250mg is probably more prudent. Note that gingko should not be consumed with blood-thinning agents like aspirin, warfarin and so forth.
Swisse also includes St Mary’s Thistle which is used as a general tonic, grape seed which is a powerful antioxidant and good for circulation and a touch of tribulus which has been shown to have benefits for libido.
Blackmores includes marigold but in a tiny fraction of the dose used in studies to combat inflammation in the body.
Centrum has steered clear of the extracts altogether focusing on just the essential vitamins and minerals.
The Final Word
Based on our analysis of coverage of each brand’s delivery on the essential vitamins and minerals, Swisse comes up as the top performer. When you include some of the extracts, it further increases its lead. But it does so at a significant price point. If you can afford it – and you aren’t using any blood-thinning medications – go for Swisse.
If you already eat a varied and healthy diet, and just want a simple multivitamin top-me-up, Centrum ranks only a few percentage points behind Swisse and comes in close second place. Centrum would also be our recommendation for any men consuming regular doses of blood-thinning medications or with low blood pressure.