Of course, eating healthy and exercising are top priorities for any anti-aging program, but we think there’s more to the story than that.
Nature has given us additional “tools” in the form of antioxidants to help fight and even reverse aging. As such, it’s no surprise that exploring them in depth has been a major focal point of ours for decades.
So what are our “favorite” antioxidants for helping to slow the aging process after all of these years? Below, we’ll dive into three key supplements that may just deserve this highly-coveted status.
First Things First: Why Do we Age?
Scientists aren’t exactly sure why we age, but multiple theories exist. One is the mitochondrial theory of aging. It states that the root cause of aging is oxidative stress to the mitochondria.
Mitochondria are the energy powerhouses of cells. Their job is to produce ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate), the energy currency of all cells. During production, however, free radicals are formed, an effect that damages mitochondria.
Through time, the mitochondria in your cells “take a beating” … their numbers eventually decrease, making you vulnerable to the effects of aging and disease. In fact, many diseases we associate with growing old (type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart failure, and cancer1-5) are actually associated with mitochondrial dysfunction.
Luckily, certain nutrients can help.
CoQ10 Extends the Lives of Animals
A house can’t run without energy, and neither can your body. That’s where CoQ10 comes into play. This vitamin-like substance helps the mitochondria “burn fuel” more effectively. It helps the energy transfer needed to make ATP. Without it, mitochondria become dysfunctional and aging accelerates.
CoQ10 supplementation has been shown to extend the lives of different species. It lowers the oxidative stress inflicted on mitochondria. In one study, mice given CoQ10 lived 11.7% years longer, which is approximately 9 human extra years based on today’s life expectancy (78.5 years).
PQQ Helps Grow New Mitochondria
PQQ is an antioxidant found in all plants. Animals need it for growth and reproduction. Like CoQ10, it helps the energy transfer process of mitochondria. But there’s one thing that makes it very unique and important: it increases the number of mitochondria in cells.
Studies show, animals deprived of PQQ present stunted growth, decreased immune function, and fewer mitochondria in their tissue. When given PQQ, these effects are reversed.
PQQ is also one of the strongest antioxidants around, hands down. It’s actually about 5,000 times more powerful at withstanding oxidation than vitamin C.
Carnitine Decreases Death Rates
Carnitine is nearly found in all cells in the human body. It transports fats to the mitochondria where they’re “burned” for energy. With age, carnitine levels drop significantly leaving the mitochondria vulnerable to destruction.
Carnitine guards nerve cells against damage. A particular form called acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) prevents the accumulation of amyloid plaque, an abnormal protein implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. It also enhances cognition. In different studies, elderly people taking ALCAR show improved memory and mental status scores.
Your heart needs carnitine to function optimally. Decreased levels weaken the heart, compromising function. In one study, heart attack survivors taking carnitine showed decreased blood pressure levels, improved lipids, and a decreased death rate compared to a placebo group (12.5% versus 1.2%).
The Bottom Line
Aging starts at the cellular level — what we see on the outside is only a very small part of the picture. Powerful antioxidants such as Carnitine, PQQ, and CoQ10 have proven to be strong allies for optimizing cellular energy, which may very well be the key to living a long and healthy life.
By Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RN