In the ever-evolving world of health and wellness, dietary supplements continue to grab our attention as potential keys to a longer, healthier life.
As someone deeply interested in the pursuit of effective anti-aging strategies, I often find myself pondering which supplements are worth incorporating into my daily regimen and which ones should be approached with caution.
I’ve previously shared that I regularly take collagen peptides and hyaluronic acid, as well as essential nutrients like vitamin D, Omega-3, magnesium, and zinc.
However, I’m always open to exploring new supplements that hold promise for helping protect against some of more debilitating symptoms of aging including muscle loss.
To shed light on the subject, I talked to Dr. Brad Stanfield, a primary care physician based in New Zealand with a focus on preventative medicine.
On his popular YouTube channel Dr. Stanfield emphasizes the importance of scrutinizing scientific studies to discern the true benefits of longevity supplements.
Creatine: A Well-Established Contender
Creatine, as he explains, stands out in the pack of longevity boosters at the moment because of the strong scientific evidence backing its use.
This supplement has demonstrated its ability to enhance muscle recovery after exercise, improve performance during short bursts of physical activity, and even potentially boost cognitive performance in older adults, according to human studies.
Dr Stanfield explained: “I think If anyone wanted to explore the world of supplements, Creatine has got the strongest evidence for it.
“We know that it helps improve muscle recovery after exercise. It also seems to help improve your performance during short bursts of exercise.
“And there’s some interesting research coming out suggesting that among older adults who take creatine it seems to improve cognitive performance as well.”
Dr Stanfield was particularly reassuring about creatine’s well-documented safety profile.
“We’ve got studies going out five years showing that there’s no damage to the kidneys whatsoever with creatine. And the list goes on in terms of proving its safety profile. The only concerns that that the only true side effects that some people get is gastrointestinal discomfort aside from and some people get bloating. Aside from that, it’s a very, very well tolerated supplement with with true, measurable benefits.
Timing and Dosage Matter
Regarding when to take creatine, Dr Stanfield says it doesn’t appear to matter significantly. Once your muscles are saturated with creatine, typically achieved with a daily dose of five grams, the timing of consumption becomes less critical.
While some advocates suggest loading doses of up to 20 grams daily to expedite saturation, this approach may increase the risk of gastrointestinal discomfort. Therefore, most experts recommend a consistent five-gram daily dosage.
Tri-Methyl Glycine: Enhancing Muscle Performance and More
In my own supplement regimen, I’ve also included tri-methyl glycine (TMG). Dr. Stanfield sheds light on its significance, emphasizing its role in further improving muscle performance when combined with exercise.
And he noted that TMG acts as a methyl donor, essential for neurotransmitter production and other vital processes.
He explained: “There’s been a few human studies showing that when you combine TMG with exercise, that offers further muscle performance improvements compared to a placebo.
“There’s also another effect. So trimethyl glycine is what we term a methyl donor. And it’s important for making sure that we’re producing our neurotransmitters and all of those types of things.
“But crucially, it lowers a thing in the blood called homocysteine. High levels of that is associated with cardiovascular disease and dementia.
“Now the jury is still very much out as to whether supplements will lower cardiovascular disease or lower dementia rates. That’s very controversial because it’s not proven. But there is a possible mechanism for how it may have a have an effect.”
While the direct impact on these conditions remains debated, TMG’s muscle performance benefits remain a primary reason for its inclusion in supplement routines.
Balancing Your Supplement Intake
Our conversation delved into other essential supplements like Omega-3, magnesium, zinc, vitamin D3, and vitamin K2, all known for their health benefits.
Vitamin D, in particular, garnered significant attention during the pandemic with some in the scientific community linking low vitamin D levels with increased a higher chance of becoming seriously ill with the virus.
Dr. Stanfield advocates for supplementing with vitamins like D3 to meet recommended daily intake, especially for individuals with limited sun exposure.
But he emphasizes the importance of moderation, cautioning against mega-dosing vitamins.
He said: “I think it’s reasonable to take a low dose of vitamin D three and the rest of the vitamins to make sure that you’re reaching your recommended daily intake. The trouble is, most people don’t do that.
“They mega dose these vitamins. So The Endocrine Society they recommend to take up to 1000 international units [IUs] of vitamin D a day and that will be plenty. That’s all you need.
“But, in the supplement world, that’s considered a very low dose. But it’s still 125% of your recommended daily intake for vitamin D.
“So again, think people just need to be careful about the dosages that they’re using with these supplements.”
Excessive supplement intake can lead to unintended consequences, reinforcing the idea that supplements should complement a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle, not replace them.
The Hype Around Nitric Oxide and Urolithin A
Two supplements currently generating buzz are nitric oxide and urolithin A.
Nitric oxide is known for its role in dilating blood vessels and supporting heart health, while urolithin A is believed to enhance mitochondrial health.
Dr Stanfield, however, advises caution, citing limited human research to justify their widespread use as longevity supplements.
Emphasizing Diet, Exercise, and Sleep
Instead he emphasizes the importance of maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise, and quality sleep as the cornerstones of healthy aging.
While supplements may offer benefits, they should be viewed as complementary to these lifestyle factors rather than standalone solutions.
As I reflect on our conversation, I’m reminded that while supplements can play an important role, it’s the broader lifestyle choices that define our wellbeing.
As always, exercise discernment and consult with healthcare professionals before incorporating new supplements into your routine.