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Longevity Vitamins: These Could Be Key To Lifetime of Health
We’ve all been told to take our vitamins and that a deficiency can lead to a myriad of health problems and issues. But what you might not know is that there are some vitamins and nutrients that are not only for improving quality of life but for extending life. What are known as longevity vitamins have started to become more and more well-known and researched. Recently, a massive review of these vitamins was undertaken by Dr. Bruce Ames, a Senior scientist at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute in Oakland, CA. He not only conducted a review of the work that had been completed in the research laboratories in his own building but also any work that had been done by other researchers on longevity vitamins.
What Are Longevity Vitamins?
Longevity vitamins are classified differently than ‘survival vitamins’ by scientists. Survival vitamins are what are needed for your body to survive and when there are not enough nutrients present your body focuses on creating and ‘asking’ for the survival vitamins instead of any longevity vitamins. The survival vitamins are what are needed for basic processes and reproduction while longevity vitamins have the additional role of providing further protection against disease and damage in the body.
When the body is nutrient deficient, it seems that it shuts down the processes for longevity vitamins and focuses on vitamins vital for basic functioning and reproduction. These longevity vitamins are what fight in the body against highly damaging diseases like cancer, oxidative damage, cardiovascular illnesses and even DNA repair. Dr. Ames identified a total of 30 different longevity vitamins and 11 other nutrients or minerals that can be considered longevity vitamins. All of these vitamins can be present in some small amounts in the body but are only beneficial if they can be found in abundant quantities. For example, small amounts of Vitamin K will be used in the body for the clotting ability of the blood but when in large enough quantities can be used to produce enzymes that keep the arteries clear and promote cardiovascular health.
The longevity vitamins include vitamins A, C, D, E, and K, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, selenium, calcium, copper, iron and zinc. Ames also identifies other compounds that are not technically considered vitamins but are vital to keeping the body healthy and with long life. These other compounds include astaxanthin, ergothioneine and pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ). Astaxanthin is an antioxidant that is currently prescribed for those with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, for metabolic syndrome, stroke, liver disease and for a number of other serious diseases. PQQ serves similar functions to vitamin B in the body and it acts as a cofactor which just means that it helps enzymes to do their jobs and is found in high concentrations in breast milk.
The full list of all the longevity vitamins includes vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12, C, D, E, K, omega-3 fats, calcium, chloride, chromium, cobalt, choline, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, sulfur and zinc. The 11 additional compounds include alpha carotene, astaxanthin, beta carotene, beta cryptoxanthin, ergothioneine, lutein, lycopene, PQQ, queuine, taurine and zeaxanthin. All of these vitamins and compounds may not present an individual with any side effects if they are not present in abundance in the body but even minor deficiencies can lead to long-term health effects. In fact, most of the time, it takes quite a while for the deficiencies to persist for negative side effects to show up in the body.
Where Can You Find Them?
Most of the vitamins that Dr. Ames suggests as being vital to a long and healthy life are not obscure or unheard of vitamins or compounds – in fact, many of them are already included in many of the vitamin supplements already out there. The problem is that many people have only the minimal amounts of these vitamins which means that they are used only for the basic processes in the body for survival and not along with other helpful enzymes that can be used to extend the life of the cells and body.
Dr. Ames encourages individuals to eat a balanced and healthy diet to get their proper amount of the longevity vitamins. Most of the longevity vitamins are readily available in many of the foods we eat and thus should be available in abundant amounts in our bodies. The problem is that many in the Western world eat a diet high in processed foods, sugar and carbohydrates as well as many empty calories. Foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, cantaloupe, apricots and leafy greens – many of these foods are part of the group of ‘healthy’ superfoods that are now becoming more and more popular.
The compounds that Dr. Ames identifies, 11 of them, as also being vital to a healthy and long life are a bit more difficult to add to a normal, healthy diet but a good number of them can be found as supplements. PQQ for instance is found in high concentrations in fermented soybean products, spinach, green tea, green peppers, parsley and kiwi fruits. Astaxanthin is found in algae, yeast, salmon, trout, krill, shrimp and crayfish. Beta carotene is found in carrots and sweet potatoes while alpha carotene is also found in carrots but as well as in pumpkin and tangerines.
Vitamins are essential to our bodies and to all of the processes that happen in our bodies. While many doctors have supported the aid of our diets with vitamin supplements, it seems that there is now even more evidence as to why we should be not only taking supplements but eating health and balanced diets as well. There are different ‘survival’ and ‘longevity’ vitamins required for the body and Dr. Ames is suggesting that while most people have enough of their vitamins to cover the survival quota, the abundance needed for those vitamins to also be used for other enzyme processes is usually lacking in the highest percentage of individuals. To get enough of the vitamins needed, researchers suggest that a balanced healthy diet, along with supplements, is needed. Most of the vitamins and compounds recommended can be found in many of the foods that are now encouraged to be eaten by dieticians and doctors. So it seems that there is even more of a reason to switch from the Standard American Diet to a balanced, healthy diet and to live a long and healthy life, free from debilitating diseases and cancers.