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Micronutrients and Aging

Bruce Ames, in 2010, published a study on the prevention of cancer and other age associated diseases by optimizing micronutrient intake. You should be aware that each and every one of us is unique in his/her requirements of micronutrients. One size certainly does not fit all. And you can customize a program of supplementation with some simple blood/sputum/urine tests that your physician can perform. In this way, each of you will know what and even how much of a certain nutrient you need to optimize health and metabolism. Remember that micronutrients need to be balanced and taken in proper doses. Too much or too little can cause deleterious effects.

Mitochondrial decay is a major contributor to aging. As you recall, the mitochondria are the power houses of our cells. They supply energy for metabolic reactions. As mitochondria age, they release mutagenic free radicals causing oxidative damage to DNA, RNA, proteins and mitochondrial membranes leading to a FUNCTIONAL decline of the mitochondria and eventually other organs, including the brain.

Decreased energy production and increased release of free radicals or oxidants are the two characteristics of aging mitochondria. The importance of optimizing metabolic function to prevent mitochondrial decay is illustrated as follows. Acetyl-L-Carnitine and alpha lipoic acid are two antioxidants that synergistically protect and even restore mitochondrial function. Oxidative stress is decreased and chronic diseases ore stalled or abated. This is illustrative of many micronutrients and metabolites that decline with age and may be of benefit as supplements in the elderly. Carnitine and alpha lipoic acid turn out to be effective caloric restriction mimetics and actually help slow down the aging process.

Ames proposes the “Triage Theory” which provides a causal link between chronic modest deficiency of a micronutrient and many degenerative diseases that accompany aging such as cancer, immune dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and stroke. If the theory is correct, the incidence of these diseases might be reduced by an inexpensive micronutrient intervention. The triage theory predicts that optimizing the intake of 40 essential micronutrients will reduce the risk of chronic diseases associated with aging, and will in fact increase lifespan!

The problem is that well over half of the US population has micronutrient intake well below thaw recommended levels. The problem is exacerbated by the American appetite for calorie rich, micronutrient poor diets. Ames hypothesizes that two of the many insidious but measurable consequences of moderate micronutrient inadequacy are increased DNA damage (future cancer) and mitochondrial decay. And these consequences increase with age.

The study suggests that mitochondrial decay leading to cancer and a variety of other diseases of aging is NOT inevitable but can be delayed by various interventions to improve metabolism. A long and health life requires avoiding modest micronutrient deficiencies to minimize chronic disease. We need to change our concepts about how we think about health. Initially, there is no overt disease or pathology associated with moderate deficiencies and this fact lessens public concern. The evidence DOES point to the fact however, that healthier and longer lives are to be gained by optimizing metabolism with more attention to our nutrition and optimizing micronutrient intake. This will delay and even stop many of the major degenerative diseases associated with aging! As always, PLEASE BE PROACTIVE ABOUT YOPUR HEALTH and thank you for reading…

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