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Dynamic Chiropractic – December 16, 2010, Vol. 28, Issue 26

Essential Anti-Aging Supplements for Maintaining Mind and Body, Part 2

By James P. Meschino, DC, MS

Editor's note: Part 1 of this article appeared in the Dec. 2 issue and covered essential supplements to recommend when patients are ages 40-50.

Age 50: Immune- and Detoxification-Support Nutrients

At age 50, the next genetic time bomb is set off that affects our immune and detoxification systems in an adverse way. This is unfortunate, as our immune and detoxification systems work hand in hand to protect us against cancer. Studies show that unless we become proactive, this protection declines with age, largely as a result of involution of the thymus gland.

As our immune system weakens and our liver enzymes become less able to clear cancer-causing agents and other impurities from our bloodstream, our risk of cancer has been shown to escalate. Additionally, a weakened immune system makes us more prone to serious, life-threatening infections. This is why older individuals often die from pneumonia, whereas younger people can fight off the infection and recover.

Studies by Dr. Chandra at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada, and others provide evidence that older subjects given antioxidant supplements can boost their immune system back to more youthful functioning. However, other studies have shown that certain herbs and phytonutrients can significantly enhance immune and detoxification function to an even greater degree than vitamins and minerals alone. These stellar supplements include agents such as reishi mushroom extract, astragalus, indole-3 carbinol (from cruciferous vegetables) and milk thistle (standardized to 80 percent silymarin flavonoid content).

After age 50, taking a combination supplement containing these four natural agents (in addition to a high-potency multiple vitamin and mineral) is an important aspect of anti-aging and disease prevention that cannot be overemphasized.

Age 50: Female Support Nutrients

At around age 50, women should consider another anti-aging supplement to help them through the menopausal and post-menopausal years. Women now live 30 percent of their lives in the postmenopausal years and the ingestion of natural female support nutrients can help preserve more youthful function and appearance, as well as address quality-of-life issues during this challenging stage of life.

Most women have heard the news that hormone replacement therapy increases risk of breast cancer, heart disease and stroke. As such, doctors are very cautious about recommending hormone replacement to women and are advised to prescribe the lowest possible dose for the shortest period of time, in cases where menopausal symptoms are severe. The new generation of bioidentical hormones may offer women a new alternative treatment in this regard, but their long-term safety still requires confirmation from large clinical trials. As a natural alternative, women should know that certain natural herbs have been shown to safely manage menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, insomnia, irritability, vaginal dryness, etc., in head-to-head clinical studies when tested against hormone replacement therapy.

Certain herbs are extremely safe to use and, in the right combination, are reported by many of the practitioners whom I have taught, to relieve menopausal symptoms in over 80 percent of cases.

To help combat the effects of menopause naturally, women are best to take a supplement containing black cohosh, soy extract and gamma-oryzanol (a natural agent from rice bran oil used in Japan as a prescription drug to manage menopausal symptoms). These three natural agents have been show to minimize menopausal symptoms, help support bone density, maintain natural vaginal secretions, improve feeling of well-being, and provide key anti-aging effects in women 50 and older. 

A supplement of this kind is safe to take with any other medication and does not increase risk of internal bleeding or high blood pressure, as can occur with the use of other herbs such as don quai (angelica species), red clover and licorice.

Mid-50s: Memory-Support Nutrients

During our mid-50s, the brain decreases its ability to make optimal amounts of a key memory chemical (acetylcholine), which leads to failing memory as we age. A brain with sufficient acetylcholine enables you to maintain your memory, whereas a brain with deficient acetylcholine creates memory loss problems. It's that simple.

Anti-aging research has shown that several natural agents can boost the brain's ability to synthesize memory chemicals and preserve brain cell communication, even in individuals over the age of 55. These nutrients include CDP-choline, phosphatidylserine, Bacopa monnieri and huperzine A. These nutrients are so effective at raising brain levels of the memory chemical (acetylcholine) that clinical studies have shown that each of these nutrients has improved outcomes in patients suffering from compromised memory and/or other mental performance difficulties.

It's important to protect your brain, in addition to your body, from decline, decay and deterioration; thus, I suggest that individuals over 54 years of age ingest a well-designed memory support supplement each day that contains meaningful doses and standardized grades of the nutrients mentioned above. A supplement of this nature can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life as they age, as left in the hands of the body's aging clock alone, we all make less acetylcholine as we age. Memory support nutrients are the only proven method to boost the brain's synthesis of acetylcholine to combat the aging process.

After age 40, the body's aging clock stages-in a number of metabolic changes that increase our risk for many common degenerative diseases associated with aging. Anti-aging researchers have unlocked many of the mysteries of the aging clock in recent years, with the realization that introducing targeted nutritional supplements at critical points in our timeline can actually combat many of the genetic time bombs that lead to arthritis, congestive heart failure, prostate enlargement, prostate cancer, immune breakdown, decline in memory and other age-related maladies.

The chiropractic philosophy, which centers around the principle of health optimization and the maintenance of ideal function, makes chiropractic doctors the perfect educators of the natural anti-aging strategy outlined in this article. Science has now shown us that the ability for our patients to maintain a highly functioning body and mind for the longest period of time must now include the use of anti-aging supplements after age 40, in addition to other well-established interventions known to preserve and promote optimal expression of health throughout our lifetime.

Click here for more information about James P. Meschino, DC, MS.

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