What are the benefits of a Multi Vitamin?
Could there be one health supplement intervention that will enable us to flourish on a day to day basis, while staving off age-related diseases like cancer, cardiovascular issues and dementia in the long-term? The short answer is yes, and it's a multivitamin. The purpose of this article is to explain why taking a quality, plant-based multivitamin each day is a good investment in our future health and longevity.
Micronutrient Inadequacy - its impact on Longevity Genes & DNA Damage
Dr. Bruce Ames, Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at UC Berkeley, spent a lifetime researching how micronutrient deficiencies may be the drivers of aging, such as cancer, cognitive decline, immune dysfunction, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular issues. His research shows that even moderate shortages of a single micronutrient can accelerate the aging process, which is why he suggests taking a quality multivitamin supplement daily.
“Triage theory” explains the difference between surviving long enough to reproduce and thriving into a healthy old age. Gaps in our daily micronutrient intake forces the body to “ration” the essential 40 micronutrients away from longevity proteins, with accelerated aging and a shortened life-span as a consequence. Nature is trading short-term health at the expense of long-term thriving.
If we eat good, healthy food, why are we still deficient in micronutrients?
The only way to know if we have optimal micronutrient levels, so all 40 essential vitamins and minerals remain safely in the “sweet spot”, not too much and not too little, is by testing. Peoples’ nutritional requirements differ for a myriad of reasons:
the quality of the food we are eating has declined (crops grown in nutrient-deficient fields treated with chemical fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides);
because of genetics (polymorphisms like MTHFR for example);
our ability to absorb and utilize micronutrients declines as we age;
geography (living in a sunny climate or spending time out of doors improves Vitamin D levels for example);
having a chronic disease or taking prescription medicines may also impact on our micronutrient status
The Linus Pauling Institute has produced startling data which indicates nutrient deficiency is rife in the United States and the Western World, where we are overfed but undernourished. The real concern now is about vitamin inadequacies (these are difficult to detect clinically and pretty much asymptomatic), which are believed to be involved in general fatigue, lowered immune function, impaired cognitive function (memory, attention and mood). Of equal concern for our long-term health is the association between micronutrient deficiency and increased risk of the chronic diseases of aging, such as cancer, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, and age-related eye-disease.
A brief explanation of how DNA and chromosomes get damaged:
To stay young and disease-free as we age, we want to minimise DNA damage. DNA damage occurs when we get a nick or tear (lesion) on one strand of the DNA. Fortunately we have two strands of DNA on each chromosome, so having an intact second strand can hold the chromosome together. We have repair enzymes busily repairing slight tears in DNA.. But if you get two lesions close together, it can break and then the chromosome falls apart. Gene mutations can follow. The long-term consequences of DNA damage is insidious, imperceptible damage, manifesting gradually as those chronic diseases we associate with aging.
Why a daily multivitamin daily keeps DNA whole and healthy for longer
Prof. Ames research found that a shortage of magnesium shuts down one of the DNA repair enzymes. Folic acid (Vitamin B9) deficiency can cause double-stranded breaks in DNA. Vitamin D is involved in about 1000 enzymes, many of which are used by the brain. A shortfall in Vitamin K is linked to the build-up of atherosclerotic plaques, leading to heart disease over time. Consuming sufficient vitamins and minerals every day is critical to supporting the enzymes, metabolic pathways and genes that we need to keep longevity proteins functioning optimally and avoid a gradual degradation of our DNA.
Taking a multivitamin every day can reduce the pace at which we age by keeping our anti-aging mechanisms well-fuelled and switched on. To understand this, let's take a look at Prof. Ames' “Triage Theory”, which explains why nature prioritises our immediate survival at the expense of our long-term health.
“Triage Theory”: a whole new view of aging, and a good reason for investing in nutritional excellence
Nature has developed an effective way to ensure immediate survival over long-term fitness. Prof. Ames observed that micronutrients were consistently diverted to ensure survival proteins were prioritised at the expense of longevity proteins. Severe deficits surface as scurvy (Vitamin C), beriberi (thiamine/B1) or rickets (vitamin D) were a serious threat in the past, but these diseases are uncommon now, quickly diagnosed, and the micronutrient deficiencies swiftly remedied. However humans have had to adapt over millennia to handle times of scarcity in order to survive. When the body runs low in any vitamin or mineral, it is in the interests of survival that nature steps in and “rations” it, diverting scarce micronutrients to those proteins and enzymes that are essential to survival, because nature's goal is to survive and reproduce. The problem of our time is not major deficits but moderate micronutrient shortages: present in nearly everyone, yet hard to detect without a blood test, due to the symptoms not being recognised.
“I kept asking myself, why is nature breaking chromosomes when you don't get enough micronutrients?” Whether we live to a ripe, old age, well past our reproductive prime, is of secondary importance to nature's survival plan. Inadequate supplies of essential micronutrients gradually undermine and damage our longevity genes. Over time, it is the “aging well” genes that get short-changed and take a hit. As the nutrient deficiencies are too small to be readily identified pathologically, we are unaware of the gradual, cumulative damage that is occurring across our life-span, increasing our risk of age-related problems like fragile bones, plaque building up in arteries, diabetes mellitus, cognitive decline, eye-disease etc.
Vitamin K effects in Survival & Longevity Proteins – why too little matters!
Prof. Ames “Triage theory” has successfully been put to the test regarding scarcity of numerous micronutrients. An excellent example is Vitamin K. Vitamin K is essential to blood-clotting. Without the Vitamin K component to blood-clotting proteins, we would bleed to death from our childhood cuts and wounds, long before reaching reproductive age. According to “Triage theory”, blood-clotting proteins are served first as they are survival proteins.
However, Vitamin K also serves another critical longevity function. When there is sufficient present in the bloodstream, it pulls calcium out of the arteries, transferring it into our bones where it is required to ensure bone strength – an elegant example of a longevity protein at work. However, in the case of ongoing Vitamin K inadequacy, atherosclerotic plaques will gradually build up on artery walls, until after a decade or so, we are diagnosed with heart disease. Or perhaps it will manifest as fragile bones? According to “Triage Theory”, diseases of aging are the long-term consequence of insidious damage due to scarcity of essential vitamins and minerals.
Deepen your understanding of Prof Ames research
Prof. Emeritus Bruce Ames is one of the 100 top cited scientists of all time. At the age of 94, he is active, still passionate about nutrition, trains with a personal trainer twice a week and he takes supplements daily. He is gifted at explaining extremely complex biochemical processes in a way the lay-person can easily understand, his talks are entertaining and funny too.
You can watch his YouTube presentations here:
Here is the Linus Pauling Institute paper
And Prof. Ames 2018 Triage Theory paper:”Prolonging health aging: Longevity vitamins and proteins.
Start the year with a health resolution that you are not going to fail at because it’s simple to implement (2 Multivitamin capsules twice per day), it’s cost-effective (cost per day: €0,84), and you could add healthy years to your life. Each sachet contains a 45 day supply at our regular price of €37,99
Use code: MULTI10 at checkout!
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