I’m celebrating my mother’s 83rd birthday today. Mom has been taking anti-aging supplements for as long as I can remember. As much as my mother is a kook about this stuff, even she realizes nothing is going to turn back the clock. It’s more a matter of delaying what nature has wrought. To a lesser extent, she also realizes all the nutrition in the world won’t make up for a lack of exercise, decent sleep, and (in general) not abusing yourself.

I have long been skeptical. The advertising claims for most of this stuff is misleading, to put it politely. But, with the caveats above, let’s see what The Science™ has to say about some common supplements.

The mineral selenium helps protect the body from cancers, including skin cancer caused by sun exposure. It also preserves tissue elasticity and slows down the aging and hardening of tissues associated with oxidation. Dietary sources of the mineral include whole grain cereals, seafood, garlic, and eggs.

Recent animal studies have found that when selenium is taken orally, it provided protection against both everyday and excessive UV damage. A study also showed selenium also delayed the development of skin cancer in animals. Studies are still needed in humans.

Vitamin E
Experts consider vitamin E to be the most important antioxidant because it protects cell membranes and prevents damages to enzymes associated with them. Natural sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils such as sunflower oil, grains, oats, nuts, and dairy products.

New laboratory studies suggest vitamin E helps inactivate free radicals, making them less likely to cause damage. For additional sun protection, individuals may consider taking vitamin E supplements. Supplementation with vitamin E in 400 milligrams a day has been noted to reduce photodamage, wrinkles and improve skin texture.”

Vitamin C
Vitamin C is the most common antioxidant found in the skin. It’s also found in vegetables and citrus fruits. Like vitamin E, vitamin C is considered important in repairing free radicals and preventing them from becoming cancerous or accelerating the aging process

Even minimal UV exposure can decrease the vitamin C levels in the skin by 30 percent. My admittedly quick Google search didn’t turn up any studies showing whether vitamin C supplements replenish vitamin C levels in the skin.

CoEnzyme Q10
Also known as CoQ10, is an antioxidant that our bodies produce. It plays essential roles in energy production and protects against cellular damage. Supplements can help reduce an accumulation of free radicals that accelerates the aging process and age-related disease. Score one for mom.

Prebiotics and Probiotics
There is a ton of literature on this stuff. I guess mom’s ramblings about gut health were real. I’m sure Tundra will drop in and extol their benefits so look for his dissertation in the comments.


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