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Dynamic Chiropractic – December 2, 2010, Vol. 28, Issue 25

Essential Anti-Aging Supplements for Maintaining Mind and Body, Part 1

By James P. Meschino, DC, MS

Have you ever wondered why arthritis, osteoporosis, dementia, cancer and heart disease risks increase as we get older? Many of the answers relate to the body's aging clock.

Although alternative practitioners often use the phrase, "The power that made the body can heal the body," many practitioners (and patients) don't realize that after age 40, the body's aging clock is actually programmed to promote the slow, steady, decline, decay and deterioration of our body and mind. The reason for this seems to be that, as far as nature is concerned, once we have lived long enough to reproduce the species and have raised our children to an age at which they can begin to look after themselves, like all other species, we essentially have served our biological purpose on this planet.

In the past 20-30 years, anti-aging researchers have unlocked many of the mysteries of the body's aging clock; along with this, they have realized that specific nutritional supplements can combat many of the genetic time bombs that lead to aging and increased disease risk. In addition to subscribing to a lifelong healthy diet, regular exercise, avoiding known carcinogens, taking a high-potency multiple vitamin and mineral supplement (enriched with antioxidants and a B complex,) a bone-support supplement, and an essential fatty-acid supplement (containing flaxseed, borage seed and fish oils), beginning at age 40 there are additional anti-aging supplements that should be staged in to a patient's wellness and longevity regime

Age 40: Glucosamine Sulfate and Natural Anti-Inflammatories

middle aged couple - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark By age 40, our joint cartilage begins to thin out, eventually leading to arthritis (degenerative or osteoarthritis) of our joints. This process affects everyone to a greater or lesser degree and can significantly compromise a person's quality of life as the years tick away.

At around age 40, a key enzyme (fructose-6 phosphate amide transferase) required to make glucosamine is no longer synthesized at optimal levels. The result is that the body can no longer make the amount of glucosamine necessary to maintain healthy, shock-absorbing joint cartilage. Glucosamine is the precursor for chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid synthesis in our joint cartilage and synovial fluid, respectively. As glucosamine production declines, cartilage erosion proceeds and arthritic joints begin to appear, making us less functional and increasing the propensity for pain and inflammation as we get older.

Studies have shown that supplementation with glucosamine sulfate, along with key anti-inflammatory and cartilage-stabilizing natural agents (namely MSM, bromelain enzymes and quercetin), can protect our joints from osteoarthritic changes. Thus, it is highly advisable to interest your patients in taking a supplement that combines these essential joint-stabilizing natural agents to help prevent cartilage erosion and associated osteoarthritis. A daily dosage of glucosamine sulfate of just 500 mg per day, along with modest levels of MSM, bromelain and quercetin, can help maintain healthy joints well into our 70s, 80s and beyond.

Without this nutrient support, you are setting the stage for certain and inevitable development of arthritic changes in your patients that are bound to decrease their quality of your life and possibly plague them with chronic pain in their retirement years, if not sooner. In addition to chiropractic joint care, a supplement containing these joint-stabilizing agents can be very helpful in combating the age-related biochemical changes that contribute to the development of osteoarthritis.

Taken at a more therapeutic dosage, numerous studies suggest that supplementation with glucosamine sulfate and natural anti-inflammatory agents can reduce stiffness, inflammation and pain in individuals who already suffer from mild to moderate forms of osteoarthritis (knees, hips, spine, etc.).

Age 40: Prostate-Protecting Supplements

At age 40, the male prostate gland begins to more aggressively convert testosterone into a more dangerous form of testosterone known as DHT. As DHT builds up in prostate cells it causes them to replicate at a very fast rate. The net result is an enlarged prostate and a greater risk of genetic mutations, which can lead to prostate cancer.

Fortunately, there are natural agents known to inhibit the build-up of DHT in the prostate. These nutrients block the 5-alpha reductase enzyme, which converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), as well as blocking prostate androgen and estrogen receptors, and providing other health-promoting effects on prostate cells. As such, prostate-support nutrients acquired from a high-potency prostate supplement should be taken by all men after age 40. The supplement should contain effective doses and standardized grades of the following natural agents shown to block DHT build-up and support prostate health in other ways:

  • Saw palmetto
  • Pygeum Africanum
  • Soy extract
  • Beta-sitosterol
  • Stinging nettle (Urtica dioca)
  • Lycopene powder
  • Pumpkin seed

Some of these ingredients have been shown in clinical studies to reverse prostate enlargement problems (BPH), as published in the Lancet, the British Journal of Urology and the Journal of the American Medical Association. I recommend that you interest all of your male patients over 40 years of age in a prostate-support supplement that contains meaningful doses of each of the nutrients listed above, as a means to prevent prostate enlargement and block key steps in the development of prostate cancer.

Age 45: Coenzyme Q10 and Hawthorn

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a vitamin-like substance found in every cell which is necessary to convert food into energy in aerobic metabolism (which generates 95 percent of the body's energy at rest and during light to moderate activity). Studies show that our bodies can only make optimal amounts of CoQ10 up to about age 20. After that, there is a decline in synthesis that starts to become significant by about age 40-45. Studies suggest that 30 mg of CoQ10 supplementation per day is required as you reach the age of 45.

When our cells are unable to produce sufficient amounts of energy due to a CoQ10 deficiency state, a decline in cell function occurs that hastens the onset of accelerated aging, with increased risk of congestive heart failure (weak heart pump), a decline in brain function, and/or a weakening of the immune system with associated cancer risk.

More recently, we have seen that lack of CoQ10 production is a key underlying cause of Parkinson's disease, many cases of congestive heart failure and high blood pressure, and contributes to other common problems associated with aging.

To be effective, CoQ10 is best taken in a combination supplement that also contains the herb hawthorn (standardized to 5 percent flavonoid content). The active ingredients in hawthorn also enhance the ability of the heart to generate energy for its pumping action. In addition, hawthorn is known to open up (dilate) the coronary arteries, allowing more oxygen-rich blood to flow to the heart muscle itself. This is of vital importance in the prevention of heart attack and angina once we are over the age of 40-45.

Remember that heart disease is the leading cause of death in both women and men as we get older. The rule of thumb is to take 37.5 mg of hawthorn for every 30 mg of CoQ10. Thus, a cardioprotective supplement containing 30 mg of CoQ10 and 37.5 mg of hawthorn per capsule should be recommended to all patients by age 45. After age 60, I recommend doubling the dosage to two capsules per day.

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