Top 20 Supernutrients for LongevityDr. Zoltan P. Rona, MD, M.Sc. February 1, 2015
“Longevity means having a chronic disease – and taking care of it.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
In my integrative medical practice I am often asked: “Is this or that supplement toxic?” People are sometimes worried about the doses of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs and other natural remedies recommended to prevent or treat disease. But, why would they be?
In one of his latest articles, Dr. W. Gifford-Jones had this to say about the toxicity of natural health products (NHPs):
“If government bureaucrats are honestly interested in the welfare of medical consumers, the best way for them to make an assessment is to examine records of the dead bodies. Data collected from 57 Poison Control Centers in the U.S. showed that, in 2010, there were no deaths from the use of vitamin and herbal supplements. This in spite of the fact that, during that year, there were 60 billion doses of nutritional supplements taken.”
In my mind, natural health products (NHPs) are by and large safe. Side effects are not a big issue. For the majority of NHPs then, the only significant side effect is longevity. This side effect is never put on the label but should be.
If you do live longer you can expect to have a high quality of life until you die. This is the promise of most NHPs. With the proper lifestyle and certain nutritional supplements, this is entirely possible. Some of my 85+-year-old patients who have been on both oral and intravenous supplements for over 35 years are particularly thankful for this. One 86-year-old patient of mine had been told by his conventional physician that he had four months to live due to an incurable form of lymphoma. But after receiving high dose IV vitamin C for the past 10 years, he is now cancer-free. Given his amazing results, he has often wondered why oncologists aren’t using vitamins to treat cancer.
My Top 20 Favourite Longevity Nutrients
If you want to live longer with a higher quality of life, there is growing evidence to support the use of specific nutrients for both disease prevention and treatment. Here are my top 20 in order of importance and why:
SETRIA GLUTATHIONE – L-Glutamine, L-Cysteine and L-Glycine are the three amino acids that make up glutathione, the most important antioxidant (master antioxidant) molecule found in the body. According to experts, it has the strongest longevity side effect potential of any single NHP.
Glutathione can help prevent aging, cancer, heart disease, dementia and other chronic diseases. By neutralizing free radicals, it addresses Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, autism, heavy metal exposure (mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic etc.) and numerous other chronic health disorders that arise from toxic overload.
As the aging body’s glutathione levels diminish due to free radical damage (pollution, drugs, alcohol, etc.), the rate of aging accelerates and chronic diseases begin to develop. Unfortunately, up until recently, taking glutathione orally was ineffective at boosting blood levels because it was destroyed by stomach acid once swallowed. But with the development of a new special form of glutathione that resists stomach acid, a person can now swallow this form (Setri form) and achieve high blood levels.
Glutathione enables the liver, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract to help with detoxification processes. It intercepts, neutralizes, and eliminates toxins and ingested chemicals. This is the ultimate chelation process that not only prevents but also treats chronic illnesses effectively. Glutathione boosts the immune system through its direct action on our white blood cells. In fact, the killer lymphocytes can become much more aggressive in fighting all kinds of infections, as well as cancer, thanks to glutathione.
Glutathione also prevents skin aging, mostly through its antioxidant protection of collagen fibres from UV irradiation. As such it helps to prevent age or liver spots and can actually reduce excessive skin pigmentation. Anti-aging doctors have long used high dose glutathione intravenously to lighten the colour of the skin. Some experts believe that it can almost do what Botox and collagen injections do to make the skin appear younger. (Recommended dosage: 1000 mg daily).
VITAMIN D – Based on thousands of published studies, Vitamin D has been found to reduce the chances of dying from any chronic disease by 40 to 60%, depending on which author you quote. It works its magic primarily through its anti-inflammatory properties.
Vitamin D is a major immune system normalizer, reducing the impact of autoimmune diseases and boosting the body’s cancer fighting abilities while protecting us from viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi through it’s stimulation of the protein – cathelicidin – a natural antibiotic.
Aside from cancer, vitamin D helps to protect the body from diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, chronic pain syndromes, osteoporosis, and numerous chronic inflammatory conditions. Bottom line: if your vitamin D blood levels (25-hydroxy vitamin D) are optimal, you will be blessed by the longevity side effect. (Recommended dosage: 2000 IU daily for prevention; optimal intake might be closer to 5000 – 10,000 IU for various health concerns.)
For more detailed information, check out some of my Vitality articles (archived at www.vitalitymagazine.com) as well as my book, Vitamin D, The Sunshine Vitamin.
VITAMIN K2 (Mena-quinone) – has been found to increase longevity by reducing the risk of dying from any cause by as much as 36%. In particular, K2 consumption helps reduce the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and cancer. It works primarily through its potent anti-inflammatory effects and in combination with other key nutrients like vitamin D. It down regulates the inflammatory cytokines that are responsible for so many chronic health problems. (Recommended dosage of Menaquinone is 100 to 300 mcg daily.)
VITAMIN C – is possibly the best known of the longevity side effect NHPs. Over the past few decades the documentation for its benefits, when taken both orally and in high dose IV forms, has been voluminous. Vitamin C bestows its major benefits on the immune system, cardiovascular system, and musculoskeletal system including bones, gums and teeth. Deficiency of vitamin C increases the body’s susceptibility to infection, and impairs the ability to heal from traumatic injuries to the body. As with vitamins D and K2, vitamin C is indispensable for longevity.
We owe Dr. Linus Pauling a debt of gratitude for being the first to publicize the numerous longevity benefits of vitamin C.
(Recommended maintenance dosage: 2000 – 4000 mg daily.)
L-LYSINE – is an essential amino acid from which the body makes L-Carnitine. Together with another amino acid called L-Proline, L-Lysine makes collagen (an essential component of arterial linings) and helps convert fatty acids into energy. It therefore has a vital role in keeping the body from gaining an excess amount of weight and developing fatty liver (an increasingly common condition in Canadians). Keeping a healthy body weight is vital in any longevity program. L-Lysine lowers the risk of heart disease through a variety of mechanisms but is best known for its ability to fight viral infections such as herpes simplex, shingles, and HPV infections. (Recommended dosage: 1500 – 3000 mg daily.)
L-PROLINE – is another amino acid needed for the production of collagen and cartilage. It is a non-essential amino acid because the body can manufacture it from glutamic acid. It is a key nutrient for maintaining the health of our skin and all connective tissues. The health of all the skeletal muscles as well as cardiac muscles depends on it. Together with L-Lysine, it helps the body manufacture collagen, essential in making the skin appear younger and thereby enhancing longevity. L-Proline is also important for optimal athletic performance as well as speedy recovery from traumatic injury. (Recommended dosage: 500 – 1000 mg daily.)
The best sources for all amino acids are meats, dairy and eggs. Strict vegans may not be getting enough of these from their diets so supplementation might be required. Together with vitamin C, both L-Proline and L-Lysine are essential for optimal cardiovascular function. There are now numerous combination supplements on the market that incorporate this highly effective trio.
L-GLUTAMINE – is best known as the non-essential amino acid that helps build bigger and stronger muscles. Body builders have long relied on its abilities to enhance performance and speed recovery time from intense exercise and injuries.
Aside from this, L-Glutamine is known for its ability to optimize gastrointestinal function; it’s the most important nutrient for the cells lining the entire gastrointestinal tract and can help in the process of healing a damaged gut. As such, L-Glutamine is important in rejuvenating what has been termed “the leaky gut” as well as diverticulosis and diverticulitis, ulcers, and numerous other gastrointestinal defects. Like all amino acids, the best source is animal protein but supplemental powder, pills, or beverages can provide higher doses to achieve therapeutic objectives.
A high intake of L-Glutamine boosts the body’s ability to make more of its own Human Growth Hormone (HGH), a key hormone proven to boost longevity and considered by many scientists to be a vital anti-aging hormone. HGH in higher amounts assists the body in reducing its fat percentage, especially visceral fat, and this is a key to preventing or even reversing metabolic syndrome or diabetes.
L-Glutamine taken in high doses is also beneficial for improving concentration and alertness without the adverse effects seen with caffeine or amphetamines. It also has the ability to cut abnormally intense cravings for sugar, alcohol and junk foods. Longevity is its major side effect.
(Recommended dosage: 500 – 1000 mg daily)
L-THREONINE – is an underestimated but very important essential amino acid for longevity. While it plays a crucial role in the immune system with regard to the thymus gland and healthier “T” cells, its most important role may be what it does in the central nervous system.
L-Threonine helps the brain make the amino acid L-Glycine, important to prevent anxiety, inflammation, and poor memory. As such it might be useful in the treatment of ADHD, anxiety, insomnia, depression and panic disorders. Severe mood swings and irritability could be the first signs of a threonine deficiency, which can be more common with strict vegan diets. Threonine deficiency can also be one of the causes of leaky gut syndrome due to its importance in making mucin, a protective coating of intestinal cells. Irritable bowel syndrome, spastic colon, celiac disease and other gut problems can be helped by threonine. What can adversely affect the gut in terms of a deficiency will also eventually affect the brain and nervous system. This is known as “the gut-brain” connection. So, if there is a brain issue, look for that gut connection. (Recommended dosage: 500 – 1000 mg daily.)
L-CITRULLINE – is a non-essential amino acid made from L-ornithine and is important in formation of L-arginine, crucial for the creation of nitric oxide (NO). NO is responsible for keeping blood vessels open and controlling blood pressure. L-Citrulline helps the body get rid of excess ammonia and enhances circulation.
L-Citrulline has been referred to as “natural Viagra” because it works very much like that drug to improve penile circulation. It can also relieve angina symptoms and improve cardiovascular function just by moving more oxygen to vital tissues and organs. Patients who are taking cardiovascular drugs should exercise caution when using high doses of L-Citrulline as there could be potential drug/nutrient interactions causing rapid drops in blood pressure. Yes, L-Citrulline can be used in high doses to lower high blood pressure (under professional supervision); this is of special interest to those seeking a nutritional alternative to blood pressure medication. (Recommended dosage: 500 – 1000 mg daily)
L-TAURINE – is an important but non-essential amino acid if longevity is your goal. Research has found that the longest living Japanese residents on the island of Okinawa have the highest intakes of L-Taurine. It has its greatest impact on strengthening the cardiovascular system (lowers blood pressure), improving insulin sensitivity (prevents fatty liver), and optimizing the immune system and the nervous system (helps treat seizures and reverses tinnitus).
L-Taurine also helps fight obesity – mostly through its ability to improve insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. Additionally, it reduces the complications of diabetes (heart disease, kidney damage, diabetic retinopathy and neuropathy). One of the best ways to improve exercise performance is to take an L-Taurine supplement beforehand because it helps muscles work harder and longer without injury.
L-Taurine is also crucial for eye health because of its ability to prevent retinal damage and macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness. And it has an especially important role to play in prevention of diabetic retinopathy.
And tinnitus (ringing in the ears) is another nuisance health problem that could be helped by supplemental L-Taurine. (Recommended dosage: 500 – 1000 mg daily)
N-ACETYL-L-CARNITINE – is another amino acid with a longevity side effect. It is made in the body from the amino acid, L-Lysine, and functions primarily as an antioxidant. It boosts energy production in the mitochondria of all cells thereby improving energy throughout the body. It also helps to improve memory, depression, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, and strokes. The primary source of N-Acetyl-L-Carnitine is red meat, especially mutton, so vegetarians may be significantly deficient in this nutrient. Excessive intake of N-Acetyl-L-Carnitine can cause mild gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps) and headaches but this is reversible by lowering the dose. (Recommended dose: 500 – 1000 mg daily.)
FOLIC ACID – is one of the B complex vitamins that prevents build-up of homocysteine, an amino acid that, in excess, can cause hardening of the arteries and cardiovascular disease. Folic acid is also crucial in the prevention of any neurological disease (neural tube defects and spina bifida). Once folic acid is ingested, it must be converted into 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) in order for it to be active – something that is not easily done by those with a genetic defect in folic acid metabolism. These people need to take a 5-MTHF supplement to receive the benefits of folic acid. (Recommended dosage: 1000 mcg daily)
VITAMIN B12 – Methylcobalamin is the best-absorbed form of vitamin B12 and most important for brain, liver, and nervous system health. Vitamin B12 deficiency signs include fatigue, poor memory, depression, numbness, tingling, loss of feeling sensation, poor vision, burning sensations, muscle cramps, nerve pain, and slowness of reflexes. Methylcobalamin is needed to keep homocysteine levels from going too high and thus is important in preventing atherosclerosis and heart disease. (Recommended dosage: 1000 mcg. daily)
SELENIUM – is a trace mineral known to be important in cancer prevention, heart health protection, optimal thyroid function, and immune system boosting. Present in high amounts in Brazil nuts, selenium is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antifungal, thus helping with dandruff and acne. Maximum safe doses appear to be about 600 mcg. daily but, clinically, some orthomolecular experts have used even higher doses to treat certain cancers and autoimmune disorders. (Recommended dosage: 200 mcg. daily)
POTASSIUM GLUCONATE – This mineral is often deficient relative to sodium and is important for every cell in the body, in particular the kidneys, heart, muscles and nerves. It is easily depleted by blood sugar problems, hormonal imbalances (excessively high aldosterone production), vigorous exercise, prolonged diarrhea, vomiting, and diuretic drugs. Heartbeat irregularities and muscle cramps could be signs of potassium deficiency. (Recommended dosage: 100 – 200 mg daily)
MAGNESIUM CITRATE – Low intakes and impaired absorption of magnesium are associated with osteoporosis, hypertension, atherosclerotic vascular disease, cardiomyopathy, diabetes, and stroke. Since magnesium is an anti-spasmodic or relaxant, symptoms of severe magnesium deficiency include convulsions, confusion, muscle weakness, abnormal muscle movements such as spasms, tremors, myoclonus, and tetany as well as arrhythmias including ventricular tachycardia, fibrillation, and other heartbeat irregularities.
Magnesium is often referred to as nature’s calcium channel blocker. When intracellular levels of magnesium are low, this causes an increase in intracellular calcium. In addition to contributing to insulin resistance, higher intracellular calcium levels enhance calcium-mediated vasoconstriction, and inhibit cardiac and smooth muscle relaxation. The increased vascular tone can cause increased blood pressure. The pharmaceutical industry makes use of calcium channel blocking drugs to reverse this. Practitioners in the natural health care community use magnesium to accomplish this with fewer side effects.
Low serum magnesium is related to low-grade chronic inflammation. Magnesium deficiency is associated with elevated serum concentrations of tumour necrosis factor-alpha and C-reactive protein (CRP). On the other hand, people with high dietary magnesium intake have lower levels of CRP, which may reduce cardiovascular disease risk. (Recommended dosage: 100 – 200 mg daily)
GRAPE SEED EXTRACT – This nutrient is very high in antioxidants called OPCs (oligomeric proanthocyanidins). It has similar health benefits to the other antioxidants discussed earlier but is primarily important in prevention of cancer, cognitive decline, skin aging, as well as the prevention and treatment of allergies. (Recommended dosage: 150 – 300 mg daily)
HAWTHORN – This herb has a long established tradition of use to enhance the health of the heart and circulation. It has been used for centuries by natural health care practitioners to treat angina, high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias, and congestive heart failure. Hawthorn strengthens the blood vessels and the heart muscle thereby improving numerous circulatory problems. Caution must be exercised with individuals taking heart medications due to potential interactions. (Recommended dosage: 300 – 600 mg daily)
HESPERIDIN – This is one of the best-known bioflavonoids, frequently found in nature together with vitamin C. We can get it primarily from citrus fruit and other high vitamin C foods. Hesperidin is especially beneficial in treating allergies, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and other blood vessel problems. It is anti-inflammatory and basically works by improving blood vessel function. (Recommended dosage: 300 – 600 mg daily.)
BEET JUICE CONCENTRATE – Beet juice contains a powerhouse of nutrients that can enhance longevity. Studies show that it can help lower high blood pressure, boost energy and stamina, reduce all inflammatory processes, fight cancer and boost the body’s ability to detoxify in the liver. (Recommended dosage: 500 – 1000 mg daily.)
“Live long and prosper.”
This might look to most readers like a lot of pills to take. But the good news is that there are supplement manufacturers that have put these nutrients together in one formula that can be mixed with water or juice. So, all one needs to do is take this combination twice a day. And, like I said earlier, the worst side effect is longevity.
• Setria Glutathione. http://setriaglutathione.com
• De Rosa SC, Zaretsky MD, Dubs JG, Roederer M, Anderson M, Green A, Mitra D, Watanabe N, Nakamura H, Tjioe I, Deresinski SC, Moore WA, Ela SW, Parks D, Herzenberg LA, Herzenberg LA. N-acetylcysteine replenishes glutathione in HIV infection. Eur J Clin Invest. 2000 Oct;30(10):915-29
• Nuttall S, Martin U, Sinclair A, Kendall M. 1998. Glutathione: in sickness and in health. The Lancet 351(9103):645-646
• Rona, Zoltan P. Vitamin D: http://vitalitymagazine.com/article/vitamin-d-a-physician-separates-truth-from-hype1/
• Rona, Zoltan P. Vitamin D, The Sunshine Vitamin. Tennessee, USA: Alive Books, 2010 http://www.amazon.com/Vitamin-D-Sunshine-Zoltan-Rona/dp/0920470823
• Rona, Zoltan P. Magnificent Magnesium. http://vitalitymagazine.com/article/magnificent-magnesium/
• Judy Ramirez. The Surprising Longevity Benefits of Vitamin K. http://www.lef.org/magazine/2014/9/The-Surprising-Longevity-Benefits-of-Vitamin-K/Page-01
• L-Lysine Benefits. http://www.md-health.com/L-Lysine-Benefits.html
• Proline. http://www.vitaminstuff.com/amino-acid-proline.html
• L-Glutamine. http://www.l-glutaminebenefits.com
• L-Threonine. http://www.nutritional-supplements-health-guide.com/threonine.html
• L-Citrulline. http://www.antiagingprime.com/l-citrullinesman.html
• L-Citrulline improves erections. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21195829
• L-Taurine. http://www.lef.org/magazine/2013/6/The-Forgotten-Longevity-Benefits-of-Taurine/Page-01
• L-Carnitine. http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03059/Acetyl-LCarnitine-ALCAR.html
• Folic acid. http://www.lef.org/vitamins-supplements/item01439/optimized-folate-l-methylfolate
• Vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin) http://tinyurl.com/b7zp8v
• Selenium. http://vitguide.com/selenium-benefits/
• Potassium gluconate. http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-825/potassium-gluconate-oral/details
• Grape seed extract benefits. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263332.php
• Hawthorn benefits. http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-hawthorn-berry.html
• Hesperidin benefits. http://tinyurl.com/qgxm56b
• Beet juice benefits. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/01/25/beets-health-benefits.aspx
Dr. Zoltan P. Rona practises Complementary Medicine in Toronto and is the medical editor of The Encyclopedia of Natural Healing. He has also published several Canadian best-selling books, including Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin. Visit his website at: http://www.highlevelwellness.ca For appointments, call (905) 764-8700; Office: 390 Steeles Ave. W. Unit 19, Thornhill, ON