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The Top Supplements that Support Longevity: Boosting Your Health for a Longer Life

The Top Supplements that Support Longevity: Boosting Your Health for a Longer Life

Introduction

As we age, maintaining optimal health becomes increasingly important. While a nutrient-dense diet and healthy lifestyle form the foundation of longevity, certain supplements may help address nutrient inadequacies and support healthy ageing (Ames, 2018). With the growing interest in prolonging healthspan and lifespan, researchers have identified several key nutrients and supplements that show promise in supporting longevity.

These “longevity supplements” target various mechanisms associated with the ageing process, such as oxidative stress, inflammation, mitochondrial dysfunction, and cellular senescence. By addressing these underlying factors, these supplements aim to reduce the risk of age-related chronic diseases and promote overall health and well-being in later life.

In this comprehensive article, we will explore the top supplements that have been scientifically researched for their potential longevity-supporting effects. From essential vitamins and minerals to novel compounds, we will delve into the evidence behind each supplement and discuss their roles in promoting healthy ageing. We will also address important considerations and precautions when incorporating supplements into your longevity strategy.

Key Nutrients and Supplements for Longevity

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is a widespread issue, affecting approximately 70% of the U.S. population (Ames, 2018). This essential nutrient plays crucial roles in maintaining bone health, supporting immune function, and reducing the risk of various chronic diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes (Ames, 2018). The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 600-800 IU, but some research suggests that optimal levels may require up to 10 times more .

Numerous studies have highlighted the importance of vitamin D in promoting longevity. A meta-analysis by Zhang et al. (2017) found that higher serum vitamin D levels were associated with a reduced risk of all-cause mortality. Furthermore, vitamin D supplementation has been shown to improve bone mineral density and reduce the risk of fractures in older adults (Weaver et al., 2016). Given the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and its potential impact on longevity, ensuring adequate intake through diet, sun exposure, and supplementation when necessary is crucial.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids (EPA and DHA)

Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are essential for maintaining optimal health throughout life. However, the intake of these vital nutrients is low in most of the U.S. population (Ames, 2018). Higher blood levels of omega-3s have been associated with a reduced risk of all-cause mortality (Wan et al., 2017), highlighting their potential role in promoting longevity.

EPA and DHA are crucial for brain and heart health, exerting anti-inflammatory effects and supporting proper cellular function (Dighriri et al., 2022). A systematic review by Abdelhamid et al. (2020) found that omega-3 supplementation reduced the risk of cardiovascular events, particularly among individuals with elevated triglyceride levels. Additionally, omega-3s have been linked to improved cognitive function and a reduced risk of age-related cognitive decline (Külzow et al., 2016).

Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral involved in numerous biochemical processes in the body. Unfortunately, approximately 45% of the U.S. population has inadequate magnesium intake (Ames, 2018). Low magnesium levels have been linked to increased all-cause mortality, DNA damage, cardiovascular disease, and other age-related conditions (Ames, 2018).

Magnesium plays a vital role in activating vitamin D, further emphasising its importance in maintaining optimal health (Rosanoff et al., 2016). A meta-analysis by Fang et al. (2016) found that higher dietary magnesium intake was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and all-cause mortality. Ensuring adequate magnesium intake through a balanced diet and supplementation when necessary may contribute to promoting longevity.

Taurine

Taurine is a conditional amino acid that is considered a “longevity vitamin” due to its potential role in promoting healthy ageing (Ames, 2018). While the body can produce taurine, dietary intake may be necessary to maintain optimal levels. Taurine has been shown to support cardiovascular health, brain function, glucose metabolism, and mitochondrial function (Ames, 2018).

In a large epidemiological study, taurine intake was identified as the most significant factor associated with a reduced risk of heart disease (Yamori et al., 2009). Taurine supplementation has also been found to improve endothelial function and reduce inflammation in individuals with cardiovascular risk factors (Katakawa et al., 2016). These findings suggest that taurine may play a protective role in promoting cardiovascular health and longevity.

Ergothioneine

Ergothioneine is a unique antioxidant found in mushrooms and other dietary sources (Kalaras et al., 2017). This compound has gained attention for its potential role in promoting longevity due to its concentration in mitochondria and its ability to protect against age-related oxidative stress and cognitive decline (Cheah et al., 2016; Cheah et al., 2017).

Interestingly, humans and other mammals have evolved a specific transporter for ergothioneine, suggesting its importance in maintaining optimal health (Gründemann et al., 2005). While more research is needed to fully understand the long-term effects of ergothioneine on human longevity, its unique properties and potential protective effects make it a promising candidate for further investigation.

Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ)

Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) is a bacterial compound that has been shown to stimulate the growth of new mitochondria, the powerhouses of our cells (Chowanadisai et al., 2010). PQQ has gained attention for its potential role in promoting longevity due to its antioxidant and neuroprotective effects, as well as its ability to improve heart health and cognitive function (Harris et al., 2013).

Animal studies have demonstrated that PQQ supplementation can improve mitochondrial function, reduce oxidative stress, and protect against age-related cognitive decline (Bauerly et al., 2011; Zhang et al., 2016). While more human studies are needed to confirm these effects, the available evidence suggests that PQQ may be a promising supplement for supporting healthy ageing and longevity.

Carotenoids

Carotenoids are a class of antioxidants found in brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, tomatoes, and leafy greens. These compounds, including lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene, β-carotene, and astaxanthin, have been associated with a reduced risk of various age-related chronic diseases and all-cause mortality (Ames, 2018).

A meta-analysis by Aune et al. (2018) found that higher dietary intake and blood concentrations of carotenoids were associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality. Carotenoids exert their beneficial effects through their antioxidant properties, protecting cells from oxidative damage and inflammation (Fiedor & Burda, 2014). Incorporating a variety of carotenoid-rich foods into the diet may contribute to promoting longevity and overall health.

B-Vitamins

B-vitamins, particularly vitamins B6, B9 (folate), and B12, play crucial roles in maintaining optimal health and potentially promoting longevity. These vitamins are essential for reducing homocysteine levels, an amino acid that has been linked to cognitive decline and various chronic diseases when present in elevated concentrations (Smith et al., 2010).

Supplementation with B-vitamins has been shown to effectively reduce homocysteine levels and improve cognitive function in older adults (Smith et al., 2010). A meta-analysis by Saposnik et al. (2009) found that B-vitamin supplementation significantly reduced the risk of stroke, further highlighting the potential longevity-supporting effects of these essential nutrients.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a vital compound involved in cellular energy production, particularly in the heart and brain. CoQ10 levels naturally decline with age, which may contribute to the development of age-related conditions (Rodick et al., 2018). Supplementing with CoQ10 has been proposed as a strategy to support healthy ageing and promote longevity.

Studies have shown that CoQ10 supplementation can improve heart health, reduce oxidative stress, and enhance mitochondrial function (Hernández-Camacho et al., 2018). A meta-analysis by Mortensen et al. (2014) found that CoQ10 supplementation significantly reduced all-cause mortality and improved exercise capacity in individuals with heart failure. These findings suggest that CoQ10 may play a role in promoting cardiovascular health and longevity.

Resveratrol

Resveratrol is a polyphenol compound found in grapes, red wine, and other dietary sources. This compound has gained attention for its potential longevity-promoting effects, as it has been shown to mimic some of the benefits of calorie restriction in animal studies (Bhullar & Hubbard, 2015).

Resveratrol exerts its beneficial effects through its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as its ability to activate sirtuins, a family of proteins involved in regulating cellular health and longevity (Berman et al., 2017). While more human studies are needed to confirm the long-term effects of resveratrol on longevity, the available evidence suggests that this compound may be a promising supplement for supporting healthy ageing.

Considerations and Precautions

While the supplements discussed in this article show promise in supporting longevity, it is essential to approach their use with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare professional. More clinical studies are needed to fully understand the long-term impacts of these supplements on human longevity, and individual responses may vary.

It is crucial to emphasise that a nutrient-dense diet and healthy lifestyle should form the foundation of any longevity strategy, with supplements used to address specific nutrient inadequacies or support overall health. Consulting with a healthcare provider can help ensure that supplement use is tailored to individual needs and takes into account potential interactions with medications or underlying health conditions.

Additionally, it is important to source supplements from reputable manufacturers and to adhere to recommended dosages to minimise the risk of adverse effects. While supplements can be beneficial, they should not be viewed as a substitute for a balanced diet and regular physical activity.

Conclusion

The pursuit of longevity has led researchers to investigate various nutrients and supplements that may support healthy ageing and reduce the risk of age-related diseases. While a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle remain the foundation of longevity, certain supplements have shown promise in addressing nutrient inadequacies and promoting optimal health in later life.

The supplements discussed in this article, including vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, taurine, ergothioneine, PQQ, carotenoids, B-vitamins, CoQ10, and resveratrol, have been associated with various mechanisms that support longevity, such as reducing oxidative stress, inflammation, and mitochondrial dysfunction. These supplements have been linked to improved cardiovascular health, cognitive function, bone health, and a reduced risk of all-cause mortality in numerous studies.

However, it is essential to approach supplement use with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare professional. While the research on these supplements is promising, more long-term clinical studies are needed to fully understand their effects on human longevity. Additionally, individual responses to supplements may vary, and potential interactions with medications or underlying health conditions must be considered.

Ultimately, a comprehensive approach that combines a nutrient-dense diet, regular physical activity, stress management, and personalised supplementation under the guidance of a healthcare provider may offer the most promising path to promoting longevity and healthspan. By making informed choices and prioritising overall health and well-being, individuals can take proactive steps towards supporting their longevity and enjoying a higher quality of life in their later years.

Key Highlights and Actionable Tips

  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) supplementation may support cardiovascular health by lowering inflammation and protecting against oxidative stress. Good food sources include organ meats, fatty fish, peanuts, spinach and broccoli.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA have anti-inflammatory effects. They are found in high amounts in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel. Regular fish consumption is linked to reduced risk of chronic diseases.

  • Prebiotics feed beneficial gut bacteria and are found in foods like leeks, garlic, onions, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, oats, wheat, chickpeas and soybeans. A diet high in prebiotic fiber, like the Mediterranean diet, supports a healthy gut microbiome.

  • B vitamins like B6, folate and B12 are required to metabolize homocysteine, an aging biomarker. Good sources include liver, eggs, tuna, lamb, legumes, brown rice, dark leafy greens, nutritional yeast, milk and yogurt.

  • Resveratrol, a polyphenol compound concentrated in grape skins, exhibits antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging and anti-cancer effects. It is also found in red wine, grape juice, berries and peanuts.

What other lifestyle factors besides diet can impact healthy aging?

Engaging in regular physical activity, moderating alcohol intake, getting adequate sleep (between 7-8 hours per night), and maintaining social connections can all positively impact cognitive function and overall health with aging. One study found increased conversation time and number of walking steps provided protection against cognitive decline in older adults.

Are there any other biomarkers of aging besides homocysteine levels?

Yes, several cellular and molecular markers are believed to be involved in the aging process. These include telomere shortening, genomic instability, epigenetic alterations, loss of proteostasis, deregulated nutrient sensing, mitochondrial dysfunction, cellular senescence, stem cell exhaustion, and altered intercellular communication. Targeting these biological processes may help prevent age-related disease.

How can I incorporate more omega-3 fatty acids if I don’t eat fish?

Plant-based sources of omega-3s include walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds. However, these contain the omega-3 ALA which has limited conversion to EPA and DHA in the body. Microalgae supplements are a vegan source of EPA/DHA. Speak to your healthcare provider about the right dose of omega-3 supplements for your needs.

What are some ways to increase intake of prebiotic fiber?

Simple ways to boost your prebiotic fiber intake include adding more garlic and onions to meals, snacking on chickpeas or hummus, choosing oats or bran for breakfast, eating more asparagus as a side dish, and having bananas or berries for dessert. Aim for a variety of fiber-rich plant foods for optimal gut health.

Can I get enough vitamin B12 on a plant-based diet?

Vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal products, so those following a strict plant-based or vegan diet are at higher risk of deficiency. Fortified nutritional yeast is one plant source of B12. However, vegans and vegetarians should have their B12 levels monitored and will likely require a B12 supplement to maintain healthy levels. Speak to your healthcare provider about the appropriate dose.

References

Ames, B. N. (2018). Prolonging healthy aging: Longevity vitamins and proteins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115(43), 10836–10844. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1809045115

Berman, A. Y., Motechin, R. A., Wiesenfeld, M. Y., & Holz, M. K. (2017). The therapeutic potential of resveratrol: a review of clinical trials. NPJ Precision Oncology, 1, 35. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41698-017-0038-6

Bhullar, K. S., & Hubbard, B. P. (2015). Lifespan and healthspan extension by resveratrol. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – Molecular Basis of Disease, 1852(6), 1209–1218. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbadis.2015.01.012

Chowanadisai, W., Bauerly, K. A., Tchaparian, E., Wong, A., Cortopassi, G. A., & Rucker, R. B. (2010). Pyrroloquinoline quinone stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis through cAMP response element-binding protein phosphorylation and increased PGC-1alpha expression. The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 285(1), 142–152. https://doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M109.030130

Dighriri, I., Alsubaie, A. M., Hakami, F. M., Hamithi, D. M., Alshekh, M. M., Khobrani, F. A., Dalak, F. E., Hakami, A. A., Alsueaadi, E. H., Alsaawi, L. S., Alshammari, S. F., Alqahtani, A. S., & Alawi, I. A. (2022). Effects of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids on Brain Functions: A Systematic Review. Cureus, 14(10), e30091. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.30091

Hernández-Camacho, J. D., Bernier, M., López-Lluch, G., & Navas, P. (2018). Coenzyme Q10 Supplementation in Aging and Disease. Frontiers in Physiology, 9, 44. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2018.00044

Kalaras, M. D., Richie, J. P., Calcagnotto, A., & Beelman, R. B. (2017). Mushrooms: A rich source of the antioxidants ergothioneine and glutathione. Food Chemistry, 233, 429–433. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2017.04.109

Rodick, T. C., Seibels, D. R., Babu, J. R., Huggins, K. W., Ren, G., & Mathews, S. T. (2018). Potential role of coenzyme Q10 in health and disease conditions. Nutrition and Dietary Supplements, 10, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDS.S112119

Rosanoff, A., Dai, Q., & Shapses, S. A. (2016). Essential Nutrient Interactions: Does Low or Suboptimal Magnesium Status Interact with Vitamin D and/or Calcium Status? Advances in Nutrition, 7(1), 25–43. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.115.008631

Saposnik, G., Ray, J. G., Sheridan, P., McQueen, M., Lonn, E., & Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation 2 Investigators. (2009). Homocysteine-lowering therapy and stroke risk, severity, and disability: additional findings from the HOPE 2 trial. Stroke, 40(4), 1365–1372. https://doi.org/10.1161/STROKEAHA.108.529503

Smith, A. D., Smith, S. M., de Jager, C. A., Whitbread, P., Johnston, C., Agacinski, G., Oulhaj, A., Bradley, K. M., Jacoby, R., & Refsum, H. (2010). Homocysteine-lowering by B vitamins slows the rate of accelerated brain atrophy in mild cognitive impairment: a randomized controlled trial. PloS One, 5(9), e12244. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0012244

Wan, Y., Zheng, J., Wang, F., & Li, D. (2017). Fish, long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids consumption, and risk of all-cause mortality: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis from 23 independent prospective cohort studies. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 26(5), 939–956. https://doi.org/10.6133/apjcn.072017.01

Yamori, Y., Liu, L., Mori, M., Sagara, M., Murakami, S., Nara, Y., & Mizushima, S. (2009). Taurine as the nutritional factor for the longevity of the Japanese revealed by a world-wide epidemiological survey. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 643, 13–25. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-75681-3_2



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