For a long time it was accepted, as a matter of course, that growing old meant becoming less physically robust, with an accompanying decline in recall and mental ability. The prospect was indeed a sobering and depressing one. Growing older meant unavoidable debilitation and a sadly diminished quality of life. It spelled a dismal future of dependency and struggling to do those simple things that we had once taken for granted. [This article, “Living longer, Staying Young: Effective Anti-Aging Supplements Revisited” was originally published in HealthXWire]
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With the increase in the average lifespan brought about by access to an ever-expanding arsenal of medications, procedures, and the availability of better healthcare (disease prevention and the like), the public’s interest in improving both the physical and the mental prospects of growing older has become a social movement that has given birth to a high-growth, high-profile industry in over-the-counter anti aging supplements. These include everything from prohormones and nootropics to transdermals and sublinguals. The total U.S. market, which is estimated to be worth in excess of $60.0 billion at present with an anticipated compound annual growth rate of between 6.1% and 7.2% through at least 2026, is filled with promise and possibilities. Of course, the usual consumer caveats apply: many of these anti aging products are well-intended but are less than measurably effective, while others may be nothing short of miraculous. The trick (and there’s always a trick) for the health-conscious consumer is to figure out which of these is truly worth the investment, and to determine what the best preventive protocol is. But we’ll be getting to that shortly.
The usual suspects – inflammation and oxidation
The general consensus used to be that the detrimental effects of the natural aging process were simply caused by two principal systemic villains – inflammation and oxidation. These culprits have been known to be partly the result of living a much longer life exposed to a toxic environment (in a world polluted with heavy metals, particulate matter, radiation, and a whole host of other nasty byproducts of a thriving but sometimes careless civilization), but mostly, and more significantly, a natural function of our humanity. While this explanation of things is certainly true and somewhat helpful, it doesn’t really get to the bottom of the story… to the detailed mechanism, or root cause, of how this deterioration actually happens.
Most of the less expensive and most popular anti-aging and life enhancement supplements which dominate the marketplace have been, and continue to be, focused on reducing or postponing the systemic damage caused by these two problems. This is logically consistent with the notion that inflammation and oxidation are, themselves, principal causes, and that they should be treated head-on. But what if these were not really the principal causes? What if they were actually just symptoms or the results of a more complex underlying problem or group of problems?
A changing view – the real enemies are more deeply embedded
The more contemporary view held by credible scientists and researchers is that deeply encoded in our DNA are the seeds of eventual decay and certain doom – of automatic self-destruction on a timetable established from before we were even born – and that this DNA programming, which controls things at a cellular level instead of at a systemic level as was once thought, is at the actual root cause of most, if not all, of the miseries that we associate with aging. This new correlative relationship has dramatically changed the tactics and strategy for optimizing prevention and treatment. We are now looking at those factors lying beneath the surface of inflammation and oxidation.
With this enhanced understanding, it has become clear that the best and most direct way to improve the quality of our longevity experience or healthspan (short of some very exacting as-yet undeveloped genetic engineering) requires that we address matters on a cellular level (i.e., microscopically, within the cell itself or between cells), and not simply macroscopically, on a systemic level, as has been done for years in the established supplement industry. And there is, as it turns out, a group of disturbing things that happen within and between our many cells as we get older and the DNA time bomb gets closer to exploding.
Multiple mishaps at the cellular level
These microscopic matters to be addressed in the fight against the unfortunate effects of the aging process include mitochondrial dysfunction, cellular senescence, loss of proteostasis, altered cellular communication, genomic instability, epigenetic alterations, telomeric shortening, deregulated nutrient sensing, stem cell exhaustion, and crosslinking of proteins (just to name those that have been fully identified so far as of this date).
Of this “most wanted” list (or actually, “least wanted”), mitochondrial dysfunction (mitochondria are those little organelles inside of each of the body’s cells which serve as energy powerhouses in the life giving oxygenation and respiration processes), seems to be the most significant negative force leading to the physical and mental decline witnessed on the broader systemic level.
Another key difference between the two approaches to anti-aging, namely systemic supplementation versus cellular supplementation, is that the former tends to address problems specific to different organs and organ systems while the latter tends to operate throughout the entire body, acknowledging that every single cell is significantly affected by some element of senescence and decay. Additionally, the older-modeled supplements typically work to counteract specific chemical imbalances while the new generation of supplements have a more subtle, but potentially more powerful and longer-lasting mechanism of action.
Keeping every individual cell healthy and fully-functioning is now regarded as the holy grail of an optimally effective anti-aging supplementation protocol, and a small number of supplement companies are developing and beginning to distribute targeted “designer products” that are specifically formulated to protect the integrity and functioning of mitochondria as well as to safeguard some of the other processes which occur inside and between the cells. And as we have all come to learn, a healthy “young” body is constantly giving birth to healthy new full-functioning cells and repairing mature ones, while a weary old body has slowed down in this replacement and repair function.
Finding supplements that slow the process of cellular decay
Sadly for health-conscious consumers in the United States, most of the companies which provide reliable products that are active on the cellular level (and especially those which target mitochondrial health) are located overseas. For a variety of reasons, some of which probably have to do with the difficulty and expense of compliance with the domestic regulatory environment in the U.S., the most effective products are being researched, formulated and sold from laboratories situated in Europe, Asia and other far-off places. A handful of these companies make their products internationally available through e-commerce, but it is still a challenge to find the best companies and to identify their best products.
Most of these high-quality products also tend to be relatively expensive in comparison to the systemic standbys with which we had become so content. Finding the supplements which best preserve, rejuvenate and regenerate cells is a sacred mission for those in search of eternal youth. But choosing the best ones in which to invest our limited dollars is a necessary and important job unto itself. Considerable research needs to be done by every health-conscious consumer in these undertakings.
One exciting new company with cutting-edge technology
Of particular interest is SRW – Science Wellness Research, a New Zealand-based company at the forefront of cellular-based anti-aging supplementation. In addition to a whole host of cellular-targeted formulations which deal with mitochondrial dysfunction and other DNA-encoded degradation of the organelles which power the cells, the company sells a product which actually enables the consumer to determine his or her true biological age, i.e., the cellular age, by a DNA test. The test comes in the form of a saliva test kit which retails for approximately $282.00 (at the current exchange rate between New Zealand’s dollar and the USD) and uses scientifically-based salivary methylation levels to determine your precise biological age.
What is fascinating about this kit is that it allows SRW’s customers to quantify – with an astonishing degree of accuracy – what effects lifestyle changes (such as alterations in diet, nutrition, exercise, supplementation, etc.) are actually having on biological age and the aging process. Very few participants in the supplement industry actually provide a means for testing, over time, the efficacy of the measures that they advocate and the supplements that they sell. Ostensibly, SRW is holding its own products under the spotlight by providing a means for customers to gauge their effectiveness with its proprietary DNAage® product. This type of innovation, as well as this level of transparency, is rare in the case of most supplement providers.
Other supplement products of Science Research Wellness are likely superior to others within the industry, not only because of their markedly cellular orientation, but because they are formulated to target very specific issues and very specific processes associated with aging at the cellular level. Additionally, the products themselves are more potent per unit weight because they are more readily bioavailable, utilizing time-release and other microtechnology to increase the effective half-life and consumption in the body. SRW’s Cel1, Cel2 and Cel3 formulations, as well as numerous of its other products which are a bit more symptomatically focused, may well be worth trying. They currently have a very informative e-commerce website which caters to the New Zealand market, but their products are available through Amazon. Their name recognition and brand awareness are not as dominant as they might deserve to be in the USA at present. Hopefully, their market presence will broaden with increasing international awareness.
It is interesting to note that a number of SRW products, while based on total body cellular technology, are labeled symptomatically or systemically. This is perhaps due to widespread consumer familiarity with, and the broad market acceptance of the notion of systemic cause and effect, or of pain and treatment. By way of exaggerated example (when making a comparison, exaggerated examples are usually the best), the person with a headache generally reaches for the aspirin without thinking that the underlying problem may be related to a blood pressure issue, or something even more ominous.
There are a handful of participants sharing the cellular-based supplement marketplace with SRW, such as Novos Labs, and Rejuven8 Supplements, but this author believes that SRW has the best offerings.
A combined supplementation approach to anti-aging & living longer
Having said a great deal about attacking the aging problem at the cellular level, there certainly is still a place in the over-the-counter armory for supplements which target the systemic issues. While some may regard these as providing something akin to symptomatic relief, they can have a positive effect on health and should not be disregarded. These supplements, which include, among other things, anti inflammatories, free-radical scavengers, anti-oxidants, neuroprotectives, and various nootropic cognitive enhancements are still the mainstay of the industry and are the consumers’ primary resource.
The chain drugstores and established online sellers of Coenzyme Q-10, Alpha Lipoic Acid, N Acetylcysteine, Resveratrol, Pycnogenol, Lutein, Collagen and the like are still doing a substantial business. The purveyors of nootropics, with their exciting cognitive and memory-enhancing possibilities, are gaining market share and popular acceptance every day, and there is, of course, something to be said for them. Many consumers swear by systemic formulations, both somatic and nootropic, and they will be here for a long time to come.
While companies marketing supplements employing cellular-based or DNA-based technology, such as SRW, herald the coming of a new, more causally-targeted generation of anti-aging weaponry, perhaps the safest and most conservative bet for the time-being is to use a comprehensive regimen of both cellular and systemic resources until science definitively tells us to do otherwise.
Living Longer, Staying Young, Anti-Aging Supplements Revisited – HealthXWire Original Article
This article does not contain health or medical advice, and the information contained herein is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure any disease, condition or health problem. Before beginning any program of diet, nutrition or supplementation, seek the advice of a competent healthcare professional in order to determine the possible effects on your health, given your individual sensitivities, needs and objectives.