A new scientific review suggests that certain vitamins may help prolong your life and maintain good health and wellness into old age. Identified as “longevity nutrients” these vitamins are necessary to repair DNA, maintain cardiovascular health and to prevent cellular damage.
The review was conducted by Dr. Bruce Ames, Senior scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute in Oakland, California. Dr. Ames analysed results from his own studies as well as studies conducted by researchers from other institutions. It was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Journal in October 2018.
In the review, Dr. Ames classifies proteins/enzymes into two categories — “survival proteins” and “longevity proteins”. Longevity proteins are those that will help us to live longer and promote long-term health. His triage theory claims that a deficiency in nutrients forces the body to ration its resources for immediate survival and reproduction. This can lead to an increased risk of age-related diseases and premature aging as our bodies prioritize the distribution of nutrients for short-term health requirements over long-term needs.
He identifies 30 known vitamins and essential minerals that, when taken at adequate levels can provide the key nutrients that are required for the function of longevity proteins. These “longevity vitamins” include vitamin K, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and selenium.
In addition to these vitamins, Dr. Ames identifies 11 compounds, that, although technically not categorized as vitamins, also support long-term health in the same manner as “longevity vitamins”. These compounds are taurine, ergothioneine, pyrroloquinoline quinone, queuine, lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and astaxanthin.
“The prevention of the degenerative diseases of aging is a different science than curing disease: it will involve expertise in metabolism, nutrition, biochemistry, and genetic regulatory elements and polymorphisms,” he writes.
Dr. Ames states that eating a healthy diet and making use of supplements can go a long way to supporting longevity. He notes that nutrient deficiencies caused by diets that favour empty calories are highly prevalent in the United States and other locations. These deficiencies can have long-term, negative effects on our health and well-being.
Dietary Sources of Longevity Vitamins
Alpha-carotene — Orange vegetables, like pumpkins, carrots and squash, tangerines, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, collard greens, avocados, bananas
Astaxanthin — Fish, shellfish, sea algae and plants
Beta-carotene — Carrots, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, squash, cantaloupe, sweet peppers, apricots, peas, broccoli and some herbs and spices, such as paprika, cayenne, chili and parsley.
Beta-cryptoxanthin — Sweet peppers, pumpkin, squash, persimmons, tangerines, papayas, carrots
Ergothioneine — Meat, mushrooms, black and red beans, oat bran
Lutein — Green leafy vegetables, sweet corn, squash, green peas, pumpkin, red peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots, egg yolks, honeydew melon, kiwis and grapes
Lycopene — Fruits like watermelon, papaya, grapefruit, mango, as well as red cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, cooked red pepper and asparagus
Magnesium — Nuts, legumes, whole-grain cereals, green leafy vegetables, soy milk
Omega-3 fatty acids — Fish, nuts and seeds, plant oils such as flaxseed oil, hemp oil
Pyrroloquinoline quinone — Fermented soybeans, vegetables like green peppers, carrots, spinach and cabbage, tofu, miso, papaya, kiwi, white and sweet potatoes
Queuine — Gut bacteria that is not found in food
Selenium — Oysters, tuna, meat, poultry, fish, whole grains, brazil nuts
Taurine — Fish, meat, sea algae and plants
Vitamin D — Fortified dairy and non-dairy milks, fish, egg yolks
Vitamin K — Dietary sources include green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, turnip greens, collards, Swiss chard, mustard greens, parsley, romaine, and green leaf lettuce, soy beans, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, fish, liver, meat, eggs
Zeaxanthin — Green leafy vegetables, sweet corn, squash, green peas, pumpkin, red peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots, egg yolks, honeydew melon, kiwis and grapes