Friday, February 26, 2021

Free Radicals & the Aging Process: Know Now, Not Later


The cover story for the November Readers’ Digest exclaims “The New Pill That Can End Aging.” A pretty powerful statement if I do say so myself…

The article focuses on Dr. Bruce Ames and another scientist who have been studying the aging process for years. Dr. Ames, who is a biochemist at the University of California at Berkeley has been particularly interested in the concept of free radical damage as the cause of not only cancer, but also aging itself.

The article indicates that in 1990 Ames and his colleagues discovered that there was twice as much free radical damage in the tissue of two-year old rats as compared to two-month old rats. Ames and his group discovered a crucial link between oxidation, the production of free radicals leading to DNA mutation, and aging. Their conclusion was that free radical oxidation doesn’t just rise with aging – it causes it.

While Dr. Ames was visiting Italy in the mid 1990’s, he came across a dietary supplement called acetyl-L-carnitine (otherwise known as ALCAR) that was said to be “sweeping” Italy. The nutrient was being touted as a natural biochemical that could help cells produce energy and work as a “pick-me-up.”

Dr. Ames suspected that ALCAR might slow or even reverse aging and he began feeding the nutrient to his old rats. Within weeks the rats apparently appeared reenergized. Dr. Ames found, however, that although ALCAR did have this positive effect, it did not seem to lower the level of free radicals. It was at that point that Ames decided to add another supplement to the rats’ diet, an anti-oxidant known as alpha lipoic acid. Ames is quoted as saying “with the two supplements these old rats got up and did the Macarena.” He adds, “The brain looked better; they were full of energy.”

I have written about alpha lipoic acid and acetyl-L-carnitine for the last few years.

The more I’ve read about the power of these nutrients, the more excited I’ve become. I routinely recommend these nutrients to my patients who have problems with the nervous system, be it their peripheral or central nerves. There are lots of companies on the market that sell alpha lipoic acid and acetyl-L-carnitine and they are certainly ones to look out for,

Alpha lipoic acid and acetyl-L-carnitine are available individually and in combination. The combination supplements give the most value by far. Look for a supplement that has a combination formula at a therapeutic dose. Each capsule of the combination product contains 300 mg of alpha lipoic acid with 500 mg of acetyl-L-carnitine and costs less than fifty cents per capsule.

Another supplement has 250 mg of each plus 200 mg of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) per capsule. CoQ10 is another critical nutrient for promoting healthy cells and protecting them from free radicals. The recommend dosage is 300 – 1,200 mg per day for alpha lipoic acid and 500 – 2,000 mg per day for acetyl-L-carnitine.

I believe that taking these two nutrients on a long-term basis is an excellent idea for overall health and additionally brain health based on current research.

References & Further Reading:

Writes in the lane of nutrition and natural treatment.

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