The scientific community has been chasing the ideology of immortality and ways to extend the human lifespan. In 2020 the average life expectancy in the United States was 77.8 years old. While this represents an average in the U.S., more and more people globally are reaching the status of a centenarian (those that live over 100).
While there is no direct cure for mortality, there are known actions that people can take to get the most out of their life. Living an active life, eating well, taking care of your mental wellbeing, and keeping tabs on your health can all help you live a longer life.
Below is a closer look at longevity supplements and how they work. Understanding how these supplements work can allow you to understand their limitations and ensure you are getting the most benefit out of them.
What is longevity and why does it matter?
Humans have a long evolutionary history and for most of that history, humans only survived for only a fraction of the time that they do now. If you look back a few hundred years ago, life expectancy was around 30 years of age. During that time, people lived in an era without the advances of modern medicine and were likely to die due to now treatable issues.
The consequence of a shorter life expectancy is that people would need to make the most of the time they were given. This meant many people were having families while very young and that people had to grow up very quickly.
Today with a lifespan double that in the past, people are able to enjoy each season of life for a little longer. People no longer have to rush to start a family and can start a family when they are ready. With longer life, more people are able to meet their grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.
Is it possible to increase longevity?
Human longevity saw a large leap with innovations within the medical field. The discovery of antibiotics and the subsequent antibiotic era allowed more people to survive infections and saw one of the largest jumps in life expectancy. Antibiotics and other treatments created through medicine have helped to limit the amount of premature death that would otherwise have taken the lives of many.
While life expectancy has seen a drastic improvement over the past centuries, these increases are really thanks to reducing the chance of premature death. Today the leading cause of death in industrialized nations is chronic conditions. These conditions have always been present throughout history but now that more people are making it to advanced age, the number of people that experience them has increased.
The trajectory of life expectancy has tapered off significantly in recent decades and one of the largest reasons for this is that people are starting to reach the upper limits of what is biologically possible. Humans have limitations when it comes to longevity and these limitations can become more apparent as you get into advanced age. For longevity and life expectancy to continue their upward trajectory, many innovations would need to occur.
Reduce chronic conditions
Chronic conditions typically have no definite cure, and for most, the best course of treatment is to try and prevent them from occurring in the first place. While some conditions are unavoidable, some that have a basis in poor lifestyle choices can be prevented through living a healthy lifestyle.
Preventative medicine is an approach that focuses on how to prevent people from getting an illness. Promoting healthy eating, routine physical exercise, and frequent screenings are hallmark options in the field of prevention.
Preventative medicine is one of the most effective ways today that we have to fight back against chronic conditions that can affect people later on in life. Taking care of yourself throughout your lifespan is currently the best way to reduce your risk of having issues as you get older.
Solve DNA shortening
As humans, we are made up of trillions of different cells. Each cell contains a structure known as DNA that houses the information on how to make you. Any time a cell needs to replicate, the cell needs to create a copy of the DNA instructions. Unfortunately, during this copying process, parts of the original DNA can be left out in the copy at the ends. Over time this can result in DNA shortening, which results in important information being omitted in new cells.
DNA shortening is not a problem early in life because there is a stretch of non-coding DNA that protects the sensitive coding DNA. The stretches on non-coding DNA at the ends are called telomeres, and they are incredibly important for allowing cells to replicate without losing valuable information in the process. As you age and cells undergo a large number of replications, DNA can become shorter and shorter, which is linked to detrimental health outcomes.
In addition to telomeres, there is also an enzyme known as telomerase that can extend telomere length and effectively add more buffer room to the ends of DNA. There is a ton of emerging research in hopes of utilizing telomerase to assist with aging, but this is still a long way from being a cure to DNA shortening. For now, the only thing that can be done is to slow DNA shortening by living a healthy lifestyle. While a healthy lifestyle won’t lengthen DNA, it can help to reduce the rate at which it is shortened which can give you more time.
Reduce cellular strain
The main reason why living things age is that over time, strains and stressors placed on cells and living things can take their toll. Cells are very good at repairing themselves, but if you extrapolate this over 80 years, the number of times your body must be resilient is immense. Radiation, carcinogens, and free radicals all can add undue strain to cells that can cause them more stress and therefore age prematurely.
One cellular strain that the body experiences is oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is caused by molecules known as free radicals. These molecules are chemically unstable and will damage nearby molecules to become more stable. Free radicals are produced by a number of different processes throughout the body, but they are often kept in check with neutralizing molecules known as antioxidants.
Another cellular strain from the environment is radiation. One of the most common strains of radiation comes from ultraviolet radiation from the sun. UV radiation is the part of sunlight that leaves sunburns. In addition to causing uncomfortable sunburns, UV radiation also has the ability to damage DNA and lead to problems at a cellular level and reduced longevity.
The best longevity supplement for healthy aging
There is no cure to aging, but there are things you can do to age at the best rate possible. The best recommendation to combat aging is to live a healthy lifestyle that includes limiting exposure to cellular strain accelerants like UV rays or smoking, staying active, and having quality nutrition.
Supplements are a great tool to ensure your body is getting the support it needs. Diet is the ideal way to get a handle on your nutrition, but sometimes it can be difficult to get every nutrient and molecule your body needs through food alone.
Below is a look at the best supplement to support healthy aging.
Mitochondria are organelles found within almost every cell of your body. They are responsible for converting glucose into usable energy by the cell. The mitochondria play a pivotal role in allowing your cells to work as efficiently as possible. With greater energy efficiency, cells are better equipped to perform their function well and are better prepared for the everyday stressors of life.
The mitochondria can face a tough battle with free radicals, and over time, the levels of the antioxidant CoQ10 within its membrane can diminish. Without CoQ10, oxidative stress can hinder the function of the mitochondria and reduce the efficiency of cellular energy being produced.
MitoQ is an antioxidant supplement that specifically targets the mitochondria to reestablish CoQ10 levels in the membrane. The result is supported mitochondria that can work as efficiently as possible for as long as possible, just as they should be.
In summary, human longevity is a complex and largely unsolved problem. Reducing the number of deaths related to acute illnesses has allowed for life expectancy to become what it is today, but the next leap in life expectancy will require the ability to eliminate chronic conditions and deal with the effects of aging at a cellular level.
Reviewed by: Kai Man Yuen/ BSc., PGDipSci., MSc.