As we age, the amount of oxidative stress in our body increases. Oxidative stress refers to a process in our body that damages cells and affects our DNA. This occurs when harmful free radicals in our bodies aren’t balanced by protective antioxidants. Our bodies do not properly detoxify free radicals with this disharmony. This disruption advances into systemic inflammation. This inflammation can ultimately lead to chronic, insidious and autoimmune disease.
Free radicals are caused by both external and internal variables. There are many contributing factors to increased free radical production, including:
- Air & Water Pollution
- Food & environmental chemicals
- UV Rays
- Unhealthy foods
Here are a few vitamins and nutrients that work in different ways to help slow the aging process and decrease oxidative stress:
Vitamin D: this sunshine vitamin not only plays a huge role in our immune system but is also crucial in both calcium and phosphorus metabolism. Vitamin D is vital because all of the cells in our body have a Vitamin D receptor. Deficiencies seen with this vitamin are linked to chronic and autoimmune diseases. Very few foods naturally contain Vitamin D. Daily skin exposure to the sun is the best way to get your daily dosage of Vitamin D. In places such as Canada where that is less feasible year round, supplementing is the next best option. Vitamin D deficiencies are common with aging. The best way to determine your Vitamin D levels is through getting tested by your doctor.
Omega 3: this essential fatty acid protects our DNA and has been proven to help protect against aging on a deep cellular level. Naturally, Omega 3’s are found highest in fish such as: herring, kipper, mackerel, salmon, sardine and trout. Omega 3’s contain both eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The body is not able to produce Omega 3’s so they must be supplemented in the diet. Studies have shown that Omega 3’s are anti-inflammatory, and support both cardiovascular health and brain health. Your health care practitioner can help you decide which ratio of EPA to DHA is right for you.
Coenzyme Q10: this powerful antioxidant is a naturally occurring component of almost all of our cells in the body. CoQ10 plays a major role in energy production and also recycles other antioxidants such as Vitamin C and Viamin E. Low levels have been shown to contribute to DNA damage and accelerate the aging process. Some medications like Statins, are known to deplete CoQ10. There are many different forms of CoQ10 available – so it is recommended you discuss the best one for you with your health care practitioner.
Vitamin B12: this vitamin plays a very important role in blood formation and cell reproduction. It is required for DNA synthesis and it is involved in fat and carbohydrate metabolism as well as protein synthesis. Deficiency is more common in those that do not consume a lot of animal foods or in those that have medications that deplete B12. It is important to know B12 levels before supplementing with this vitamin, especially because there are different causes as to why B12 may be low. Deficiencies may lead to mood disturbances, neurological problems, anemia and other symptoms. Since there are different forms of B12, it is important to discuss with your health care practitioner which kind is best suited for you.
Magnesium: this wonder nutrient is important for DNA stability, integrity and repair, and helps to fight off oxidative stress and inflammation. Magnesium is also important for bone structure, protein synthesis, and carbohydrate metabolism. Did you know that magnesium is required for over 300 different processes in the body? It is certainly a nutrient that you wouldn’t want to be deficient in, even though many people are! Magnesium is highest in foods that contain large amounts of fibre, especially from vegetables. Although often subtle, examples of deficiency can be seen with constipation, anxiety, and muscle cramping. Because Magnesium has so many roles in the body, symptoms can be seen in almost every organ system. Because most individuals are most likely deficient in Magnesium, it is not essential to get your levels tested. Focusing on increasing your intake from food is important. Supplementing with this nutrient may be beneficial if you are familiar with the correct form of Magnesium to take.
Pycnogenol: an extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, this is an incredible antioxidant that protects DNA from damage by free radicals. Pycnogenol contributes to vascular integrity, is anti-inflammatory, boosts the immune system, helps to manage blood sugar, lowers blood pressure, enhances athletic performance and also helps to stimulate the mind. The uses for pycnogenol are limitless! Because Pycnogenol has so many functions in the body it is crucial to consult a health care practitioner before deciding on a dosage level and a supplement.
The aging process is straining enough on the body as it is! Slowing down this process helps to keep us at our best, for longer. These recommendations are intended as a starting point and guide only – it is important to consult a health care practitioner to find which supplements best suit you and your needs.