What is a longevity supplement?
Other than a vitamin supplement such as multivitamins, a longevity supplement does not necessarily look at helping with deficiencies (although there might obviously be some overlap). A longevity supplement contains ingredients that promote longevity of your body by tackling the hallmarks of ageing and supporting healthy ageing and long health span.
When looking for an effective longevity supplement, which ingredients should you look for?
NAD+ is a key longevity molecule in our cells and is involved in healthy ageing. Unfortunately, NAD+ levels in our cells decline as we age. Supplementing with NAD+ precursors may help to keep the amount of NAD+ in our cells sufficiently high. Well-known NAD+ precursors are nicotinamide riboside (NR), nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) and niacin or vitamin B3.
When considering a vitamin B3 supplement, there are a few things to take into account. While new kids on the block NR and NMN, touted by longevity researchers such as Charles Brenner (NR) and David Sinclair (NMN), seem to show promising results in studies, not all of these molecules have been approved for use in dietary supplements by the European Union (EFSA, European Food Safety Authority). More research is needed to evaluate the long-term effects. Regular vitamin B3 or niacin, on the other hand, has been studied for years and is generally considered safe.
Niacin or vitamin B3 is a micronutrient that humans cannot make on their own but needs to be supplemented. Niacin is a well-known vitamin with established health benefits such as the normal functioning of the nervous system. Niacin also reduces tiredness and fatigue. Recently it was shown that niacin supplementation in humans improved the available NAD+ levels and had a beneficial impact on the overall body composition by reducing fat.
Resveratrol is a phytochemical and polyphenol that is naturally occurring in the skin of red grapes, and blueberries as well as in dark chocolate. Research suggests that resveratrol is an activator of the sirtuins, a group of molecules linked to longevity. Laboratory mice fed with resveratrol had a prolonged life compared to those of the control group and were more active and generally in better shape.
Vitamin D3 is a powerhouse molecule and is best known for its role in calcium absorption by the body. However, researchers found that vitamin D3 does much more than that. Vitamin D3 also contributes to the normal function of the immune system and has a role in cell division. Scientific research indicates an association between low levels of vitamin D3 and diseases associated with ageing such as cognitive decline, depression, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Vitamin D3 deficiency was recently linked to the gravity of symptoms in covid-19 patients.
Pomegranate extract contains ellagitannins, which are precursors of Urolithin A. Bacteria in the gut transform the ellagitannins into Urolithin A, which is a compound that is known to positively influence the mitochondria in our cells. The mitochondria are the energy factories of our cells, contributing to the production of ATP, the energy source of our cells. As we age, mitochondrial activity declines, leading to cell damage. Pomegranate extract may help to enforce the mitochondria. In addition, pomegranate extract also comprises punicalagin, a compound linked to the prevention of collagen degradation. As collagen is crucial for delaying skin ageing, pomegranate extract thus also enforces healthy, younger-looking skin.
Sulforaphane is known to activate the stress-response pathway NRF2 in the human body. NRF2 controls over 200 genes responsible for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant processes. The NRF2 pathway helps the body to suppress inflammation, activates detoxification and promotes antioxidants. As we age, a chronic, low-grade level of inflammation develops in our bodies, known as “inflammageing”. Suppression of inflammation in the body is believed to be linked to longevity. Activators of NRF2 such as sulforaphane were shown to slow the rate of cancer and cardiovascular problems, as well as play a role in the removal of toxins from our body. Broccoli sprouts are a tremendous source of sulforaphane.
Vitamin K is an often ignored but important micronutrient. Studies show that Vitamin K supplementation can benefit the maintenance of bones and diseases linked to ageing, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular diseases. In addition, vitamin K may affect mitochondrial health.
Betaine / Trimethylglycine
Betaine, also known as trimethylglycine or TMG is a molecule related to choline. Each molecule contains three methyl groups (hence the name trimethyl). Betaine contributes to normal homocysteine metabolism. Betain/TMG assists in methylation of proteins, including histones. Research suggests a positive influence of TMG on liver detoxification. In addition, TMG also aids in the conversion of homocysteine to methionine. High levels of homocysteine, have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and osteoporosis. Through its activity as methyl donor, TMG may further ensure that the methyl pool in our body stays optimal, especially when supplementing with NAD+ precursors, known to be methyl consumers.
Of course, there are other molecules known to have a positive influence on a longer lifespan. When choosing the right longevity supplement, it is especially important to choose a high-quality supplement with the right doses. Supplements of biological origin or with plant extracts are preferred because these are more easily bio-absorbable. However, don't forget that longevity is part of a complete lifestyle. Eating healthy, exercising enough, and sleeping well, ... remain the key to a longer health span.