Are Anti Aging Supplements Really Necessary?

Why is it essential to include anti aging supplements as a part of your strategy for better living as you age?  Why isn't it enough to just eat good food and get plenty of exercise?  If I eat my fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats, while staying away from harmful additives and food products manufactured with questionable processes — why isn't that satisfactory?  Has something happened to the quality of the food at the store?  Are there forces at work in this century that weren't existent in other centuries?

These are all questions I wrestled with as I was considering whether I needed to begin buying and consuming food supplements.  I've walked down the aisles, and passed by the stores that are loaded with shelf after shelf of food supplements.  I've listened to the claims of friends who are distributors for one of a multiplicity of purveyors of natural food supplements.  I've bought some and tried them, without really being convinced that they were doing anything for me at all.

A Cynic Becomes a Believer

A few years ago I began to do some research on food supplementation; in the end I became an anti aging supplements believer.  What did I discover?
    1) Much of our food is grown in depleted soils
    2) Many food products are augmented with questionable additives
    3) Many food products are processed to their detriment
    4) Our environment is filled with harmful chemicals
    5) Not all supplements are the same

For more insight on the negative consequences of the first four items in this list, see my discussions on free radicals and unhealthy food. With regard to the proliferation of food supplements and their relative value, I needed to do more study. I'd heard the claims about the doctor who discovered a miracle formula that cured just about whatever one might be ailing from. I'd read about the superiority of "natural" food supplements over those made from "chemicals".

Selecting the Best From the Rest

I have become convinced that, because this is an unregulated industry, there are many phonies in the mix of food supplement producers and peddlers.  Studies of some food supplements have shown that more often than we'd suspect, they don't even contain the proportion of ingredients that are listed on the labels.  Others that I have researched leave me feeling that they have simply chopped up herbs and compressed them into tablets.  And it doesn't take a sleuth to discover that many brands of supplements come from the same manufacturers; different packaging, same product.

How can you find the best anti aging supplements?  Certainly you want to know what kind of research is being done to discover and test the formulas that are being sold to you.  Are they conducting double-blind, placebo-controlled human trials, or are they testing their products on you, the consumer?  Do they have the scientific personnel and equipment to test their products at the genomic level?  Are the micronutrients being delivered to your cells in the best way possible, or are they simply passing through your digestive tract, with little benefit being realized?  How broad is their research: are they using only a few dozen or a few hundred ingredients, or are they testing thousands of plants found throughout the world?

Are they growing their own ingredients in rich soils that have not been exposed to chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides?  Since the government is not regulating this industry, as they do with foods and drugs, what kinds of standards is the supplement manufacturer maintaining?  How are they assuring freshness and potency of the product after it is packaged and marketed?  What kind of guarantee does the company have, should you find that the products do not measure up to your satisfaction?

Do Some Homework

You depend upon the government and your doctor to protect you from unscrupulous and unqualified drug manufacturers.  Who do you depend upon to tell you about the quality of the anti aging supplements you are buying and consuming?  If the manufacturer or seller of the supplements you are using cannot give you satisfactory answers to questions like those above, I'd say you should begin looking elsewhere for your supply of anti aging supplements.

And, by the way — in case you hadn't noticed — they don't give these things away!  If you're going to risk your hard-earned money, as well as your health, you want to get the best you can afford.  And, speaking of cost — many people find that a healthy, anti aging  lifestyle, including high quality food supplementation, is cheaper than doctors, drugs, and surgeries.  As always, though, check with your medical professional, before making a change to your diet, adding food supplements, altering your prescription drug usage, or making a decision about surgery.

Okay, we've started our research. How do we know which anti aging supplements we should take? Are there supplements that can reverse aging?