Does scientific research support trying any anti-aging dietary supplements?
Before we get to that answer, please carefully read our medical disclaimer. Each of us is unique, so dietary supplements and dosages impact us in different ways. What may be good for one person can be harmful or even fatal for another.
Optimal supplementation advice would require precision medicine including knowledge of an individual’s health, weight, age, medical history, family background, genomics, diet, microbiome, and current supplement and medicinal use among other factors. The potential for adverse diet, microbiome, medicinal and supplement interactions need to be carefully considered.
Keep Health and its Editors do not advocate nutritional supplementation over proper medical advice or treatment and this sentiment will never be expressed through pages hosted under Keep.Health. If using any pharmaceuticals or drugs given to you by a doctor or received with a prescription, you must consult with the doctor in question or an equally qualified Health Care Professional prior to using any nutritional supplementation. If undergoing medical therapies, then consult with your respective Therapist or Health Care Professional about possible interactions between your Treatment, any Pharmaceuticals or Drugs being given, and possible nutritional supplements or practices hosted on Keep Health or in Keep Health newsletters.
Keep Health does not assume liability for any actions undertaken after visiting these pages, and does not assume liability if one misuses supplements. Keep Health and its Editors do not ensure that unforeseen side effects will not occur even at proper dosage, and thereby do not assume liability for side effects from supplements or practices hosted under the domain of Keep.Health or in Keep Health newsletters.
Trusted Independent Dietary Supplement Research Websites
As a first step to exploring supplements, become familiar with these two trusted medical sites. They provide helpful free information about most dietary supplements.
- MedlinePlus from the National Institute of Health (NIH)
- World Health Organization (WHO) List of Essential Medicines, Vaccines, Vitamins and Minerals
Not all supplements are created equal. Different vendors manufacture them at varying levels of quality. For independent verification of the quality and contents of direct-to-consumer supplements, see the dietary supplement analysis results from these trusted research sites:
- Consumer Lab (paid digital subscription. $3.95/month, $47.40/year)
- Consumer Reports (paid digital subscription. $10/month, $59/year)
To find out if dietary supplements have or are undergoing clinical trials, see ClinicalTrials.Gov.
Less-trusted Independent Dietary Supplement Research Websites
For a less-conservative perspective, there are leading-edge, evidence-based self-hackers who don’t want to wait for clinical trial results. Their ideas are sometimes worth reading. However, consider them carefully. They pursue paths where the initial science is promising, but the long-term results are unknown. Here are a few:
- Dr. Axe (free)
- Examine Supplement Guides and A-Z Supplement Guide (paid digital subscription. $29/month, $199/year)
- Selfhacked (free)
If you do not get 5-30 minutes of sun exposure per day, check with your physician about Vitamin D supplementation. 2018 research linked low vitamin D blood levels to higher risk of diseases ranging from diabetes to breast cancer. See this chart for the significant impact of Vitamin D on disease reduction. Of note, Vitamin D3 has 161 potential adverse interactions including seven major ones.
Although you may find this surprising, multivitamins are not recommended by health experts. Large independent studies concluded that multivitamins don’t reduce the risk for heart disease, cancer, cognitive decline (such as memory loss and slowed-down thinking) or an early death. Even worse, some ingredients appear to be harmful (see below in Common Supplements to Avoid).
Omega-3 Fats (DHA/EPA)
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are Omega-3 fats which provide many cardiovascular benefits including reducing triglyceride levels, homocysteine and blood pressure. Unfortunately, many people have insufficient DHA/EPA consumption.
Your blood tests from your health baseline can let you know if you are low in DHA and EPA. If so, health experts recommend either eating two 3.5 oz servings per week of oily fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna, trout, etc.) or taking leading high quality fish oil supplements such as Carlson.
For those with heart disease or high risk of heart disease, the FDA has approved Amarin‘s prescription Vascepa which contains only the desired active ingredient from fish oil, icosapent ethyl. When combined with statins along with a low-fat and low cholesterol diet, Vascepa is clinically proven to reduce cardiovascular risks such as heart attacks and strokes.
Metabolic Medicines, Mitochondrial Health and Energy-focused Supplements
Here are some dietary supplements which are attracting attention from anti-aging experts.
Metformin is a first-line prescription diabetes drug which has become popular with anti-aging experts because a study of more than 180,000 people published online in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism in 2015 found that diabetics on metformin lived about 15 percent longer, on average, than those without the disease, supporting findings that metformin can curb some cancers and heart disease. Berberine is a lesser known non prescription medicine for diabetes and experimental studies show promising results for anti-obesity as well as cardiovascular disease reduction. Here is an excellent Berberine and MetFormin comparison from the NIH. For additional curated information from Keep Health, see:
Anti-aging experts are looking at ways to improve the health of aging mitochondria, the energy production and metabolism regulators in your cells. They are exploring multiple over-the-counter supplements. NR is popular among anti-aging experts. PQQ is being hyped by less reputable anti-aging “experts” and lacks independent clinical research. Ubiquinol, the more bioavailable form of Coenzyme-Q. It is a key component in the electron transport chain, facilitating the production of energy. For curated information from Keep Health, see:
Microbiome Prebiotics and Probiotics
See our Microbiome article.
Common Supplements to Avoid
- Daily Aspirin, unless you are at high risk for cardiovascular problems
- Beta-carotene supplements appear to be harmful, especially at high doses
- Vitamin E at high doses
- …and 15 less common ones from Consumer Reports
Thanks for reading. As your reward, hopefully we’ve saved you money on supplements you don’t need to buy. We hope to have better news on anti-aging dietary supplements in the future.