Juvenon Health Journal volume 3 number 4 april 2004
By Benjamin V. Treadwell, Ph.D.
Most of us know someone who had healthy habits but nevertheless came down with one of the dreaded diseases of aging, such as cancer or Alzheimer’s. We all wonder what we can do to improve our chances against these scourges.
The generic answer is familiar to everyone: eat right, exercise, and live right (meaning, don’t smoke, drink in moderation, be safe, stay active, etc.). Let’s take a deeper look at eating right.
EATING RIGHT AND A HEALTHY DIET ISN’T EVERYTHING
Eating right has to do with providing nutrition to our bodies and, at the most basic level, to our cells. The challenge of defining a diet to provide that nutrition has spawned an unending stream of recommendations, ranging from serious scientific studies to fad diets.
The simple truth is that no recipe for optimal diet is applicable to all people. Because of genetic differences and age-related changes in body chemistry, requirements vary from one individual to another. We have all known people who seem to have iron stomachs, and others who have ultra-sensitive digestive systems and react to a variety of foods. These variations are a manifestation of the composition of our bodies at the molecular level.
Some individuals with certain gene mutations or variations (gene polymorphisms) require several-fold greater amounts of particular nutrients than most people, in order to achieve normal cellular function. It is now becoming apparent that even our appetites are to some extent under genetic regulation. A hormone-like substance known as ghrelin, produced by the stomach, stimulates hunger and is balanced by another fat cell-produced hormone, leptin, that tells us when we have had enough to eat. It is now known that in some people this balance is upset, and the ghrelin dominates.
Nutritional requirements also vary from one time of life to another. As we age, our ability to absorb nutrients declines, and we need to ingest more of certain nutrients in order to provide a sufficient amount for optimum cellular health. This forms the basis for the necessity to supplement with nutrients for maximum health as we age.
It has been known for some time that the people who live around the Mediterranean lead some of the longest, healthiest lives in the world. A recent publication in the medical journalLancet reports that the secret to these peoples’ health is probably their diet, which consists of high consumption of fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and olive oil, with fewer than 10% of calories derived from saturated fat. This is supportive of the theory that saturated fats are detrimental, and mono and poly-unsaturated fats, like olive oil and the omega 3 fats found in fish oil, are beneficial. (The authors also note that these people incorporate into their daily routine a high level of physical activity.)
A study of more than 400 men and women over four years found that people who eat a Mediterranean-style diet are 50 to 70 percent less likely to suffer repeat heart attacks. These findings were published in the journal of the American Heart Association.
It is important to emphasize that the carbohydrates in the Mediterranean diet are largely from whole grain rather than the refined grain products we commonly use in the American diet. The whole grain carbohydrates are slowly metabolized to glucose during digestion and therefore do not promote a spike in insulin release. In contrast, the refined carbohydrates are almost immediately converted to glucose. A high blood-glucose level is toxic and promotes serious disease states, such as diabetes, heart disease and perhaps even neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
But as we age, eating right is not enough.
Each person is genetically unique. Because of this inherent variation, we have different sensitivities and require different amounts and types of nutrients for health. In addition to genetic uniqueness, our requirement for particular nutrients varies with age. In general, the older we become, the more susceptible we are to all forms of disease. There is evidence that absorption of nutrients at the macro level, from the intestines, as well as at the micro level, cellular uptake and utilization, is much less efficient as we age.
While a balanced diet is fundamental, growing numbers of nutrition scientists believe we need to supplement our diet with at least a multiple vitamin. Support for the beneficial effects from taking supplements, at least for some, is becoming more apparent as exemplified by a recent observational study showing surprising positive effects from large doses of vitamins C and E. Briefly, the results showed a remarkable decrease (44%) in the rate of development of Alzheimer’s disease in those on long-term high dose vitamin E (more than 400IU/day) and vitamin C (more than 500mg/day).
As discussed in prior issues of this newsletter, Professor Bruce Ames of the University of California -Berkeley has demonstrated, with laboratory experiments, the benefits of supplementation with alpha lipoic acidand acetyl-L-carnitine. Prof. Ames’s current work is demonstrating a boost in the longevity of cells in culture when they are given high levels of vitamins, especially the B vitamins, as well as antioxidant vitamins.
Previous to these experiments, it was assumed that the standard nutrient medium used by scientists throughout the world contained nutrients at optimum quantities. Prof. Ames’s finding is significant in light of similar assumptions that the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamins is all we need for maximum health. This notion is currently being challenged, and it is clear that major changes in RDA will be coming in the future. Supplementing our diets as we age, to ensure adequate cellular nutrition, may become standard practice in the future.
Scientists are finding it an enormous challenge to develop effective treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Fortunately, the news is much more encouraging with regard to simple steps that anyone can take to reduce the risk of incurring the disease. A recently published study conducted in Cache County, Utah enrolled over 5,000 subjects to test the idea that antioxidants may protect the aging brain against oxidative damage associated with AD. The conclusion was that Vitamin C and E supplements in combination was associated with reduced AD prevalence. For more information, click here.
This Research Update column highlights articles related to recent scientific inquiry into the process of human aging. It is not intended to promote any specific ingredient, regimen, or use and should not be construed as evidence of the safety, effectiveness, or intended uses of the Juvenon product. The Juvenon label should be consulted for intended uses and appropriate directions for use of the product.
Dr. Treadwell answers your questions about Juvenon™ Cellular Health Supplement
QUESTION: I have a question about the dosage you recommend [one tablet two times per day]. I am female, 5′ 1″ and weigh about 130 pounds. Would that dosage be appropriate for me as well as for people who are of average height and weight? I wonder if perhaps my smaller stature would indicate that I take a lower dosage on a daily basis compared to someone who is 5′ 10″ or 6′ tall?
M.V., via email
ANSWER: It is possible that one tablet/day is enough for you. Optimum dose appears to be more dependent on gene profile, diet and metabolism rather than the physical size of an individual. Our recommendation of 2 tablets/day is based on numerous human studies, in which the responses were examined over a range of doses. Our experience is that 2/day is optimal for more than 75% of people. However, some individuals find they obtain a more pronounced effect with a somewhat higher dose (up to 3 or even 4/day) and some prefer 1/day. Some people report that they take 2/day but take both tablets together with breakfast. Taking them too close to bedtime can interfere with sleep, whereas taking them earlier in the day can improve the quality of sleep. I suggest you experiment and find what works best for you.
Benjamin V. Treadwell, Ph.D., is a former Harvard Medical School associate professor and member of Juvenon’s Scientific Advisory Board.