Herbs and Supplements for Healthy Aging

Nicotinamide Riboside (Niagen)

Nicotinamide Riboside  is a recently discovered form of vitamin B3 that can increase levels of Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+) levels in humans.

NAD+ is a key co-enzyme that the mitochondria in every cell of our bodies depend on to fuel all basic functions.

NAD+ levels drop as we age and when our bodies are stressed by disease or chronic inflammation (1,2).

Research in mice has shown promise that increased NAD+ levels can “turn back the clock” and make muscles, organs and tissues in older mice resemble that of much younger animals (3).

Research in humans has shown that supplementation with NR does raise NAD+ levels, which helps to ameliorate some age related disease and illness.  Clinical studies on the effectiveness in improving metabolic health are ongoing, with  2 soon to be published (4, 5) and 10 or more in process.

Chronic Inflammation increases as we age and is at least partly responsible for falling NAD+ levels.   Dr David Sinclair, arguably the most prominent researcher in NAD+ aging research recently published research that shows the enzyme CD38 rises, increasing inflammation and consuming NAD+.    He concluded:

These findings suggest that the efficacy of NAD+ precursors may be enhanced by co-supplementation with CD38 inhibitors

ANTI INFLAMMATORIES

Many of the anti-inflammatories on this list can help combat chronic inflammation and work synergistically with NR to improve cellular health.

There are hundreds of natural products that have been used for thousands of years to cure illness and disease.

When we examine the most effective, western medicine invariably finds they fight inflammation.

For example, Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory that  matches the effectiveness of many prescription drugs in treating many chronic conditions (71011121314).

Getting more of these supplements into your diet will greatly lower systemic inflammation and make it easier for your body to fight age related disease and illness.

NOT EASILY OBTAINED FROM FOOD SOURCES

 1. CURCUMIN
 3. COQ10
 4. BOSWELLIA
 5. EGCG (GREEN TEA)
 8. QUERCETIN
 9. GINGER
 10. SPIRALINA
 13. RESVERATROL
 14. CINNAMON
 15. GINGKO BILOBA

Magnesium/Potassium

Vitamin B&C Multi

CAN BE OBTAINED IN SUFFICIENT QUANTITY FROM FOODS

 2. OMEGA 3’S – EPA, DHA (FISH OIL)
 6. VITAMIN D
 7. MCT OIL (COCONUT OIL)
 11. LYCOPENE (TOMATOES)
 12. POMEGRANATE

 1. CURCUMIN

Turmeric in Bowl and Spoon

Curcumin is the bioactive in Turmeric, which is a perennial plant native to Southern Asia.

Supplementation may provide a notable increase to antioxidant enzyme profile and a notable decrease to inflammation and pain, according to multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in humans:

Supplementation with Curcumin may also provide a subtle increase to HDL-C, and functionality in the elderly or injured; a subtle decrease to blood pressure, general oxidation, lipid peroxidation, and triglycerides; and subtle support for long-term joint function.

Curcumin is a remarkably powerful antioxidant, helping to fight oxidative damage and boosting the body’s own antioxidant enzymes (2728293031). This is important, because oxidative damage is believed to be one of the key mechanisms behind ageing and many diseases.

Curcumin is also strongly anti-inflammatory, to the point where it matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs (32). Given that long-term, low-level inflammation plays a major role in almost every chronic Western disease, it is not suprising to see that curcumin is linked to a variety of health benefits.

Studies suggest that it can improve brain function, fight Alzheimer’s, reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, and relieve arthritis, to name a few (3334353637).

It can decrease inflammation in diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease and cancer, to name a few (13141516).

Curcumin also appears to be very beneficial for  improving symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (1718).

One randomized controlled trial found that people with metabolic syndrome who took curcumin had significantly reduced levels of the inflammation markers CRP and MDA, compared to those who received a placebo (19).

In another study, when 80 people with solid cancerous tumors were given 150 mg of curcumin, most of their inflammatory markers decreased much more than those in the control group. Their quality of life score also increased significantly (20).

Curcumin is poorly absorbed when taken on its own, but you can boost its absorption by as much as 2,000% by taking it with piperine, found in black pepper (21).

Recommended dosage: 100–500 mg daily, when taken with piperine. Doses up to 10 grams per day have been studied and are considered safe, but they may cause digestive side effects (22).

Some clinical studies:

Improvement in Oxidant Stress – 21 People (link)
Curcumin protects from DNA damage – 286 People (link)
Antioxidant effect in pancreatitis – 20 People (link)
Diverse positive effects in people – 38 People (link)
Reduction in oral inflammation – 20 People (link)
Decrease joint pain and improved function – 100 People (link)
Ulcerative colitis maintenance therapy – 89 People (link)
Reduce blood pressure – 24 People (link)
Changes for type 2 diabetic nephropathy – 40 People (link)
Laparoscopy postop pain improvement- 50 People (link)
Management of osteoarthritis- 100 People (link)
More management of osteoarthritis- 50 People (link)
Acetominaphen vs Curcumin – 15 People (link)
Improve vascular endothelial health – 32 People (link)

Potential side effects: None if taken at the recommended dosage.

Not recommended for: Pregnant women.

Bottom Line: Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory supplement that reduces inflammation in a wide range of diseases.

2. FISH OIL

Young Woman With Fish Oil and Glass of Water, Horizontal

Fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital to good health.

They can decrease the inflammation associated with diabetes, heart disease, cancer and many other conditions (23242526272829).

Two especially beneficial types of omega-3s are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

DHA, in particular, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects that reduce cytokine levels and promote gut health. It may also decrease the inflammation and muscle damage that occur after exercise (29303132).

In one study, levels of the inflammation marker IL-6 were 32% lower in people who took 2 grams of DHA, compared to a control group (31).

In another study, DHA supplements significantly reduced levels of the inflammatory markers TNF alpha and IL-6 after vigorous exercise (32).

However, some studies in healthy people and those with atrial fibrillation have shown no benefit from fish oil supplementation (333435).

Recommended dosage: 1–1.5 grams of omega-3s from EPA and DHA per day. Look for fish oil supplements with undetectable mercury content.

Potential side effects: Fish oil may thin the blood at higher doses, which can increase bleeding.

Not recommended for: People taking blood thinners or aspirin, unless authorized by their doctor.

Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These acids decrease the body’s production of a long list of pro-inflammatory biochemicals, including the same ones targeted by most NSAIDs — cyclooxygenase (COX 1 and 2). It also helps to reduce levels of inflammatory interleukins, specifically interleukin-1, a marker of chronic inflammation. In studies, people who ate fatty fish were less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, and people with rheumatoid arthritis who took fish oil were able to reduce their dosage of anti-inflammatory drugs. They also reported less pain and stiffness.

Fish oil has a synergistic effect with aspirin. It inhibits synthesis of thromboxane A2 and the highly inflammatory leukotriene B4. Fish oil is reported to help asthma, cystitis, hepatitis, pancreatitis, prostatitis and dermatitis.

Bottom Line: Fish oil supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids can improve inflammation in several diseases and conditions.

3. CoQ10

 Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10 ) is a molecule found in the mitochondria of humans and other organisms. Supplementation may provide a notable decrease to lipid peroxidation, according to multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in humans:

Supplementation with Coenzyme Q10 may also provide a subtle increase to blood flow, endothelial function, and exercise capacity; and a subtle decrease to blood pressure, exercise-induced oxidation, and general oxidation.

Still today, one of the most common and thoroughly researched uses of CoQ10 is helping protect the heart and blood vessels from the damaging effects of oxidative stress (also called free radical damage).

 

The name may not sound very natural, but CoQ10 is in fact an essential nutrient that works like an antioxidant in the body. In its active form, it’s called ubiquinone or ubiquinol.

It’s synthesized within the body naturally and used for important functions, such as supplying cells with energy, transporting electrons and regulating blood pressure levels. (1) The reason it’s not considered to be a “vitamin” is because all animals, including humans, can make small amounts of coenzymes on their own even without the help of food.

 

4. BOSWELLIA

Because it turns off reactions of the immune system that drive up inflammation and swelling, boswellia is a potential natural treatment for cancer and capable of helping to fight pain in addition to inflammation.† Boswellia serrata extract is so powerful that today it’s considered comparable to NSAID pain relievers (the leading type of chemical anti-inflammatory medications).

However, unlike over-the-counter or prescription medications that come along with all sorts of side effects, boswellia extract has been used safely and without complications for thousands of years. The chemical structure of boswellic acids closely resemble those of steroids — however their actions are different and do much more than mask symptoms. (1)

5. EGCG (GREEN TEA)

Green powder matcha tea isolated on white.

You’ve probably already heard that green tea is one of the healthiest beverages you can drink.

It’s been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and other conditions (24252627).

Many of its benefits are due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, especially a substance called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).

EGCG inhibits inflammation by reducing pro-inflammatory cytokine production and damage to the fatty acids in your cells (2627).

Bottom Line: Green tea’s high EGCG content reduces inflammation and protects cells from damage that can lead to disease.

6. VITAMIN D

 

It is well established that vitamin D is the single most important substance in your body for something called immune system tolerance, which means “how hot can your frying pan get before there are major overheating problems?”

One new study evaluated the vitamin D status and pain levels in 2,070 adults over age 65.  Of these adults, 53 percent had moderate to severe pain, and all were linked to poor vitamin D status, a relationship that held true when other variables were taken into account.

Another new study documents, for the first time, precise mechanisms by which vitamin D lowers inflammation.  The researchers show a new receptor for vitamin D on DNA.

In fact, correcting your vitamin D deficiency may cut your risk of dying from any cause by 50 percent, according to one analysis.

This places vitamin D on par with DHA as potent regulators of inflammation at the most fundamental levels of human health.

7. MCT OIL

Cholesterol

MCT is short for Medium Chain Triglycerides.  MCT oils have been linked to lower cholesterol levels in both animal and human studies.

For example, calves consuming MCT-rich milk had lower cholesterol than calves fed LCT-rich milk (26).

Several studies in rats have linked coconut oil to improved cholesterol levels and higher antioxidant vitamin levels (2728).

A study in 40 women found that consuming coconut oil along with a low-calorie diet reduced LDL cholesterol and increased HDL cholesterol, compared to women consuming soybean oil (29).

Improvements in cholesterol and antioxidant levels may lead to a reduced risk of heart disease over the long term.

Diabetes

MCTs may also help lower blood sugar levels. In one study, diets rich in MCTs increased insulin sensitivity in adults with type 2 diabetes (32).

Another study in 40 overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes found that supplementing with MCTs improved diabetes risk factors. It reduced body weight, waist circumference and insulin resistance (33).

Brain Function

MCTs produce ketones, which act as an alternative energy source for the brain and can therefore improve brain function.

Recently there has been more interest in the use of MCTs to treat or prevent brain disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia (34).

One major study found that MCTs improved learning, memory and brain processing in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. However, this was only effective in people containing a particular gene, the APOE4 gene (35).

Weight Loss

There are several ways that MCTs may help with weight loss, including:

  • Lower Energy Density: MCTs provide around 10% fewer calories than LCTs, or 8.4 calories per gram for MCTs versus 9.2 calories per gram for LCTs (10).
  • Increase Fullness: One study found that compared to LCTs, MCTs resulted in greater increases in peptide YY and leptin, two hormones that help reduce appetite and increase feelings of fullness (11).
  • Fat Storage: Given that MCTs are absorbed and used more rapidly than LCTs, they are less likely to be stored as body fat (10).
  • Burn Calories: Studies in animals and humans show that MCTs (mainly C8 and C10) may increase the body’s ability to burn fat and calories (12131415161718).
  • Greater Fat Loss: One study found that an MCT-rich diet caused greater fat burning and fat loss than a diet higher in LCTs. However, these effects may disappear after 2–3 weeks once the body has adapted (18).
  • Low-carb Diets: Very low-carb or ketogenic diets are a effective ways to lose weight. Given that MCTs produce ketones, adding them to your diet can increase the number of carbs you can eat while staying in ketosis.

Read more about  MCT oils.

8. QUERCETIN

The anti-inflammatory effects of quercetin seem to come from its ability to dampen the production and activity of pro-inflammatory biochemicals such as leukotrienes and prostaglandins. They also block the release of histamine, the biochemical that causes allergy symptoms like runny nose and itchy eyes. In addition to being of help during allergy season, quercetin seems to help symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and chronic, nonbacterial prostatitis.

Research shows that anti-inflammatory foods containing quercetin can help manage a number of inflammatory health problems, including heart disease and blood vessel problems, allergies, infections, chronic fatigue, and symptoms related to autoimmune disorders like arthritis.

Quercetin  helps slow the aging progress because it lessens the effects of oxidative stress on the body. (4) Oxidative stress takes place in all of us but is increased by things like a poor diet, high levels of stress, a lack of sleep and exposure to chemical toxins.

9. GINGER

Fresh and Sliced Ginger

Ginger root is commonly ground into powder and added to sweet and savory dishes.

It’s also commonly used to treat indigestion and nausea, including morning sickness.

Two components of ginger, gingerol and zingerone, may reduce the inflammation linked to colitis, kidney damage, diabetes and breast cancer (3637383940).

When people with diabetes were given 1,600 mg of ginger daily, their CRP, insulin and HbA1c levels decreased significantly more than the control group (39).

Another study found that women with breast cancer who took ginger supplements had lower CRP and IL-6 levels, especially when combined with exercise (40).

There’s also evidence suggesting ginger supplements can decrease inflammation and muscle soreness after exercise (4142).

Ginger is a popular spice used in several forms of alternative medicine. Studies have consistently shown that 1 gram or more of ginger can successfully treat nausea. This includes nausea caused by morning sickness, chemotherapy and sea sickness (545556575859).

Ginger’s  strong anti-inflammatory properties seem to be why it can help with pain management (60). One study in subjects at risk for colon cancer found that 2 grams of ginger extract per day decreased markers for colon inflammation in the same way as aspirin (61).

Other research found that a mixture of ginger, cinnamon, mastic, and sesame oil decreased pain and stiffness experienced by those with osteoarthritis. It had a similar effectiveness as treatment with aspirin or ibuprofen (62).

Bottom Line: 1 gram of ginger appears to be an effective treatment for many types of nausea. It is also anti-inflammatory, and can help reduce pain.

Recommended dosage: 1 gram daily, but up to 2 grams is considered safe (43).

Potential side effects: None at the recommended dosage. However, higher dosages may thin the blood, which can increase bleeding.

Not recommended for: People who take aspirin or other blood thinners, unless authorized by a doctor.

Bottom Line: Ginger supplements have been shown to reduce inflammation, as well as muscle pain and soreness after exercise.

10. Spirulina

Spirulina Tablets

Spirulina is a blue-green algae. Supplementation may provide a notable decrease to lipid peroxidation and triglycerides, according to multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in humans:

Supplementation with Spirulina may also provide a strong decrease to allergies, nasal congestion, and liver fat; a notable increase to power output; a notable decrease to blood pressure and general oxidation; a subtle increase to HDL-C and muscular endurance; and a subtle decrease to LDL-C and total cholesterol(575859606162636465).

Although most research to date has investigated spirulina’s effects on animals, studies in elderly men and women have shown that it may improve inflammatory markers, anemia and immune function (6465).

When people with diabetes were given 8 grams of spirulina per day for 12 weeks, their levels of the inflammation marker MDA decreased (66).

Additionally, their levels of adiponectin increased. This is a hormone involved in regulating blood sugar and fat metabolism.

Recommended dosage: 1–8 grams per day, based on current studies. Spirulina has been evaluated by the US Pharmacopeial Convention and is considered safe (67).

Potential side effects: Aside from allergy, none at the recommended dosage.

Not recommended for: People with immune system disorders or allergies to spirulina or algae.

Bottom Line: Spirulina provides antioxidant protection that can reduce inflammation and may improve symptoms of certain diseases

11. LYCOPENE (Tomatoes)

Fresh Tomato with Paste

The tomato is a nutritional powerhouse.

Tomatoes are high in vitamin C, potassium and lycopene, an antioxidant with impressive anti-inflammatory properties (67686970).

Lycopene may be particularly beneficial for reducing pro-inflammatory compounds related to several types of cancer (6869).

One study found that drinking tomato juice significantly decreased inflammatory markers in overweight women. However, these markers did not decrease in obese women (70).

In a review of studies analyzing different forms of lycopene, researchers found that tomatoes and tomato products reduced inflammation more than lycopene supplements (71).

Lastly, it’s interesting to note that cooking tomatoes in olive oil can maximize the amount of lycopene you absorb (72).

That’s because lycopene is a carotenoid, which are fat-soluble nutrients. They are absorbed better when there is some fat in the meal.

Bottom Line: Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene, which can reduce inflammation and protect against cancer.

12. POMEGRANATE

 13. RESVERATROL

Blonde Woman Eating Blueberries

Resveratrol is an antioxidant found in grapes, blueberries and other fruits with purple skin. It is also found in red wine and peanuts.

Resveratrol supplements may reduce inflammation in individuals with heart disease, insulin resistance, gastritis, ulcerative colitis and other conditions (44454647484950515253).

Some evidence suggests that resveratrol is a more potent anti-inflammatory agent than NSAIDs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or indomethacin.

Injections of resveratrol into the joints of animals decreases inflammation. It also reduces cartilage destruction. Like ginger and fish oil, resveratrol inhibits a number of inflammation-producing biochemicals. Such chemicals include COX-1 and COX-2.

It also seems to have a regulating effect on certain immune cells. It may reduce T cell proliferation. T cells are involved in some autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis.

One study gave people with ulcerative colitis 500 mg of resveratrol daily. Their symptoms improved and they had reductions in the inflammation markers CRP, TNF and NF-kB (52).

In another study, resveratrol supplements lowered inflammatory markers, triglycerides and blood sugar in people with obesity (53).

However, another trial showed no improvement in inflammatory markers among overweight people taking resveratrol (54).

The resveratrol in red wine may also have health benefits, but the amount in red wine is not as high as many people believe (55).

Red wine contains less than 13 mg of resveratrol per liter (34 oz), but most studies investigating the health benefits of resveratrol used 150 mg or more per day.

To get an equivalent amount of resveratrol, you’d need to drink at least 11 liters (3 gallons) of wine every day, which definitely isn’t recommended.

Recommended dosage: 150–500 mg per day (56).

Potential side effects: None at the recommended dosage, but digestive issues may occur with large amounts (5 grams per day).

Not recommended for: People who take blood thinning medications, unless approved by their doctor.

Bottom Line: Resveratrol may reduce several inflammatory markers and provide other health benefits.

14. CINAMMON

Cinnamon is a popular spice, found in all sorts of recipes and baked goods. It contains a compound called cinnamaldehyde, which is responsible for cinnamon’s medicinal properties (1). Cinnamon has potent antioxidant activity, helps fight inflammation and has been shown to lower cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood (234). But where cinnamon really shines is in its effects on blood sugar levels.

Cinnamon can lower blood sugar by several mechanisms, including by slowing the breakdown of carbs in the digestive tract and improving insulin sensitivity (5678). Studies have shown that cinnamon can lower fasting blood sugars by 10-29% in diabetic patients, which is a significant amount (91011). The effective dose is typically 0.5-2 teaspoons of cinnamon per day, or 1-6 grams.

You can read more about the impressive health benefits of cinnamon here.

Bottom Line: Cinnamon has numerous health benefits, and is particularly effective at lowering blood sugar levels.

15. GINGKO BILOBA

Ginkgo biloba, which is also known as maidenhair, is an ancient plant extract that has been used in China medicinally to heal various health ailments for thousands of years. In fact, the University of Maryland Medical Center reports that ginkgo biloba is the oldest tree species on earth, and today it is one of the top-selling herbal treatments worldwide.

Ginkgo’s been widely studied for its effective anti-inflammatoryantioxidant, platelet-forming and circulation-boosting effects. According to current research, ginkgo biloba benefits include improved cognitive function, positive mood, increased energy, improved memory and reduced symptoms related to multiple chronic diseases — for instance, it’s been used as an asthma natural remedyADHD natural remedy and dementia treatment. In fact, it’s believed to be so effective that it’s even a prescription herb in Germany!

More on Gingko Biloba here

 

16. Magnesium & Potassium

 

Magnesium is an essential dietary mineral found in food like nuts, cereals, and vegetables. Supplementation may provide a notable decrease to blood pressure (only in cases of high blood pressure), according to multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in humans:

Supplementation with Magnesium may also provide a subtle increase to insulin sensitivity, aerobic exercise, and muscle oxygenation; and a subtle decrease to blood glucose, and insulin.

17. Vitamins B & C