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Turn Back The Clock

Author: Jack Challem
Excerpt from: Better Nutrition, August 2009

The fact is, nearly everyone wants to live longer. And the desire to do so isn’t new. Five centuries ago the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon searched for a fountain of youth.

The science is finally catching up with our pipe dreams, and much of that science now focuses on nutrition. Here’s why: aging results from a deterioration of gene function and cell metabolism. Because nutrients form the foundation of our biochemistry, they can be used to fine-tune how the body functions at its most fundamental levels.

Will supplements enable you to live longer? The research indicates that they can certainly help. How will you be able to tell as your biological clock moves forward? Pay attention to two clues – your energy levels (and a lack of fatigue) and your good health (in comparison to your peers).

Based on the research, these are three of our top youth-preserving nutrients, along with some of the cutting-edge science that put them on our list.

1. Resveratrol. This antioxidant found in purple grape skins, blueberries, and cranberries, caught the attention of scientists when they discovered that it turns on the SIRT1 gene, which protects against many diseases including diabetes and lengthens life expectancy. Nearly all of the research has been done on cells, worms, and mice – though they all have the same SIRT1 gene that humans have – and resveratrol increased their life expectancy by 15 percent. That’s about an extra 11 years in human terms.

Should you bet your money on lab tests on worms and mice? Consider this: last year, a major pharmaceutical company plunked down $720 million to buy a company researching resveratrol, presumably betting on a big payoff. That company gave resveratrol to men with type 2 diabetes, and their blood sugar and insulin levels improved. The improvement is associated with greater longevity.

2. Coenzyme Q10. Nobel laureate Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, MD, called cellular energy the “currency of life.” Indeed, energy levels are a good indicator of overall health, and obviously staying healthy does more for longevity than being sick. CoQ10 was the basis of the 1978 Nobel Prize in chemistry, awarded to Peter Mitchell, PhD. The vitamin-like nutrient is needed to make energy in every cell of the body – it works by helping shuttle around energy-containing electrons.

Studies have found that the most energetic tissues, such as the heart and brain, have the greatest CoQ10 requirements. High doses of the nutrient have been used to reverse cardiomyopathy (a disease of the heart muscle) and heart failure. Some research also suggests that it can boost the energy of immune cells and help them fight cancer. Take 30 to 100 mg preventively.

3. Carnitine. Carnitine helps transport fats in the cells so they can be used as a fuel source. Several related molecules, including acetyl-L-carnitine work closely with CoQ10 in energy production, boosting cell function. In a recent study, doctors used 2g carnitine (or placebos) daily to treat 66 centenarians suffering from age-related fatigue. After six months, the carnitine supplements led to significant reductions in physical and mental fatigue, with improvements in cognition and muscle mass.

Studies in animals have found that a combination of acetyl-L-carnitine and alpha-lipoic acid can reverse age-related declines in both physical and mental functioning.