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Can taking certain supplements on a regular basis magically increase your lifespan? It is complicated.
Or as Kim Yawitz, RD, sums it up: “The five most important behaviors for long-term health and longevity (according to a major 2013 study) never smoke cigarettes, maintain a healthy weight, limit alcohol intake, alcohol, exercise regularly, and get at least seven hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. Yawitz adds that if you’re not doing these five things for the long haul, “then taking supplements for longevity is like putting premium gasoline in a dented car with three flat tires and a bad clutch”.
Indeed, as Yawitz points out, no supplement will help you live longer. Still, “there is some evidence that some supplements may help with healthy aging, assuming you eat well enough, exercise, and take good care of yourself.”
So how can supplements potentially help promote longevity?
“Some supplements are believed to prevent or even reverse biochemical changes associated with aging, such as cell damage, decreased cellular energy, and DNA mutations,” Yawitz says. “Others target systemic inflammation – a major contributor to life-shortening conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.”
While supplements aren’t a panacea, when paired with the five aforementioned behaviors, the research on them certainly looks promising.
When researching supplements, there are a few important guidelines to keep in mind, especially since there isn’t much oversight in the supplement industry, so it can be hard to know with whether the health claims on product labels are legitimate. Yawitz. That’s why she recommends people look for supplements that have a third-party tested symbol (such as NSF or Informed Choice) on the label. “This means the manufacturer has paid an independent lab to test the purity of the product and ensure that the nutrition facts on the label are accurate,” she says.
Another important note: “Consulting your doctor or pharmacist before starting any supplement can help prevent harmful drug interactions, especially if you’re taking prescription or over-the-counter medications,” Yawitz says.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at six supplements that experts say can help support longevity when combined with a healthy lifestyle.