Three healthy ageing nutrient all stars
-Jun 18, Jenny Paul , Nutrition -
Not every nutrient that your body needs to stay in tip-top health is easily obtainable in the average diet. To get the proper amount of certain vitamins and minerals, supplements are key. But you won’t get what your body needs from just any multi-vitamin. Quality is key; but there’s three nutrients in particular that you need as you age to keep you feeling and looking your best.
Coenzyme Q10 is a vitamin-like nutrient which is naturally produced in the body. However, levels of CoQ10 in the body fall with age and, because of its importance in sustaining health, energy production and antioxidant protection, supplementation can provide significant tangible benefits.
Although foods such as broccoli, dark leafy greens, nuts, fish, shellfish, pork, chicken and beef are dietary sources of CoQ10, it has been estimated they deliver only about 2 to 5 mg, which is not enough to sustain healthy levels in the body. A young, healthy body, in comparison, can produce 45 mg by itself.
Two factors result in a deficiency of CoQ10: reduced biosynthesis (meaning the body isn’t producing enough by itself) and increased demand from the body.
Deficiencies in the B-vitamins and trace minerals needed for the production of CoQ10 are one cause of low levels, as are mutations in the genes required for its synthesis. Another cause is an increased demand for CoQ10 to neutralize high levels of environmental toxins (such as pollution, smoke and excessive sun) and free radicals.
Coenzyme Q10 functions in every cell of the body to produce energy. It is an essential component of healthy mitochondrial function (mitochondria are the energy-producing centers of all cells). CoQ10 offers enhanced energy levels and greater endurance, as well as a greater ability to lose body fat while preventing the energy decline seen in aging cells and diseased organs.
The antioxidant nature of Coenzyme Q10 derives from its energy carrier function. As an energy carrier, it continuously goes through an oxidation–reduction cycle, accepting and giving up electrons. In its reduced form, it can easily give up electrons both to stabilize and thus neutralise free radicals and regenerate other antioxidants. It’s particularly effective at protecting the vulnerable mitochondria and mitochondrial DNA from oxidative stress and the cell damage it causes.
Studies have confirmed that, being a large, fat-soluble molecule, CoQ10 needs to be accompanied by fat in order to be absorbed properly by the body. If you’re taking a gel capsule containing oils or fats, Coenzyme Q10 will be absorbed directly into the gastrointestinal tract. If taking a tablet supplement, make sure to consume it with fat-containing foods.
It’s challenging to get enough zinc from diet alone. We’ve looked into it in depth here and have explained why zinc gives your skin a glow from within as well as preventing breakouts and acne. The best way to get the amount of zinc your body needs is through a supplement, but be choosy; zinc competes for absorption with calcium, copper and iron, so if integrated in a supplement also containing these minerals, its absorption will be inhibited.
The presence of amino acids, particularly sulfur-containing amino acids such as cysteine, increases its absorption.
Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric, a spice used in India for thousands of years in cooking and as a medicinal herb. Turmeric has been proven to counteract inflammation more effectively than many drugs – and without the side effects. It’s now being touted by the A-list as a must-have for beauty as well as wellbeing.
Acute (short-term) inflammation is beneficial. When you get a cut, inflammation helps isolate the area and keep pathogens from taking over. But when inflammation is chronic, the immune system response is being inappropriately deployed against the body’s own tissues.
It’s believed that chronic, low-level inflammation plays a major role in most chronic diseases, from heart disease to cancer to Alzheimer’s. Therefore, anything that can help fight chronic inflammation is of potential importance in preventing and even treating these diseases. Curcumin targets multiple steps in the inflammatory pathway at the molecular level.
For example, curcumin blocks NF-kB, a molecule that travels into the nuclei of cells and turns on genes related to inflammation. It also boosts levels of the brain hormone BDNF, which increases the growth of new neurons and fights various degenerative processes in the brain.
And, unless you’re following a turmeric-heavy diet, or taking a supplement, you’re likely missing out on the benefits of curcumin.
To summarise, supplements are a valuable addition to your daily health routine, but they’re most effective when they’re targeted toward specific benefits like anti-ageing, rather than just a collection of vitamins and minerals – some of which can easily be found in your diet.