We’re always looking for anti-aging solutions in a culture that puts a premium on youth, it’s easy to see why we’re always looking for anti-aging remedies. But can nutritional supplements really slow the process?
The answer lies in looking at scientific studies and separating truth from hype. Evidence that supplements work is promising.
Since most of us already live more than 70 years, it’s difficult to test the effects of these products on people. As a result, most anti-aging research is done on animals – from mice, with life-spans of 1-3 years, to fruit flies, which live about two weeks.
Ultimately, subjective changes may be your best measure of whether a supplement has benefits. Ask yourself: Does it make me feel good? Keep me energetic? Combat fuzzy memory?
Here are 4 supplements that will help:
Our bodies naturally make CoQ10 (also known as ubiquinone), a nutrient necessary for basic cell function. It enters the mitochondria (our cells’ “energy centers”), where it helps transform fats and sugars into energy. As we age, CoQ10 levels naturally decline.
Test-tube and animal studies show that CoQ10 acts as a protective antioxidant in mitochondrial membranes and may prevent cognitive decline.
When taken with other antioxidants – Vitamins C and E – CoQ10 may also improve arterial elasticity, making you less vulnerable to the hardening of the arteries that leads to heart disease, according to a 2010 study published in Nutrition & Metabolism.
CoQ10 may be especially helpful if you’re taking statins to lower cholesterol levels or beta blockers for irregular heartbeats, because they reduce CoQ10 levels.
Known as the “red wine” chemical, resveratrol is a polyphenol found in the skin of grapes and berries.
Some researchers believe it’s partially responsible for the “French paradox,” in which people who drink wine have fewer health problems from eating fatty foods.
Animal research has shown that resveratrol increases the lifespan of worms, fruit flies and fish. In mice, it raises insulin sensitivity, decreases glucose levels and improves cardiac health, which suggests it may help prevent type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Resveratrol also may influence sirtuins, proteins that keep cells healthy, and the Sir T1 gene, a gene that governs cellular longevity, says Leonard Guarente, Ph.D., an anti-aging specialist and MIT biology professor.
“Vitamin D is a real winner,” says Fred Pescatore, M.D., a New York physician and author of Thin for Good. “It does everything from cancer protection and lowering blood pressure to strengthening bones.”
Most major health problems are initiated or promoted by chronic, silent inflammation, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia, asthma, allergies, auto-immunity, and diabetes.
Coincidentally – or not, as the new evidence suggests – low vitamin D blood levels are linked to higher risk for cardiovascular disease, common cancers, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, infections, and autoimmune disease.
Vitamin D’s newly confirmed effects on people’s working genes give the nutrient attributes similar to the antioxidants in fruits, veggies, cocoa, tea, coffee, wild salmon, red shrimp, and krill.
Blueberries have proven to be incredibly healthy for animals. Laboratory rats fed blueberries navigated mazes better. Mice fed blueberry supplements avoided behavioral problems associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have also found that the fruit may extend lifespan in worms.
But human research is sparse. A small 2010 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that older adults who drank wild-blueberry juice every day improved their memory.
Exactly what makes blueberries good for you isn’t clear. Research suggests it’s their healthful anthocyanins, pigments that give berries – and other blue and red plants – their color, says Robert Krikorian, Ph.D., lead author of the juice study and a University of Cincinnati Health Center researcher.