Mice Study Suggests Dietary Supplements Can Prevent Aging

Potentially interesting new research, albeit in mice, discovers a dietary supplement containing a blend of thirty vitamins and minerals has anti-aging properties.

The supplement — consisting of all natural ingredients widely available in health food stores — prevents and even reverses massive brain cell loss in mice, say researchers from McMaster University.

Scientists believe the formula could someday slow the progress of catastrophic neurological diseases in humans, such as Alzheimer’s, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease), and Parkinson’s.

“The findings are dramatic,” says Jennifer Lemon, research associate in the Department of Biology and a lead author of the study.

“Our hope is that this supplement could offset some very serious illnesses and ultimately improve quality of life.”

The formula — containing common ingredients such as vitamins B, C and D, folic acid, green tea extract, cod liver oil, and other nutraceuticals — was first designed by scientists in McMaster’s Department of Biology in 2000. Nutraceuticals are foods containing health-giving additives and having medicinal benefit.

A series of studies published over the last decade and a half have shown its benefits in mice. The health enhancing effects have been demonstrated in both normal mice and those specifically bred for such research. However, research studies have not been conducted on humans demonstrating the same results.

Improvements in the mice bred for research may be especially significant as these animals are genetically altered to age rapidly, and experience dramatic declines in cognitive and motor function in a matter of months.

The mice used in this study had widespread loss of more than half of their brain cells, severely impacting multiple regions of the brain by one year of age, the human equivalent of severe Alzheimer’s disease.

The mice were fed the supplement on small pieces of bagel each day over the course of several months. Over time, researchers found that it completely eliminated the severe brain cell loss and abolished cognitive decline.

It’s important to note that the study has not yet been independently replicated by other researchers. Nor has this research shown any benefits of “anti-aging” in humans — only mice. Most mice studies when replicated in humans do not produce the same results, or the same kind of impact of the active ingredient or treatment.

“The research suggests that there is tremendous potential with this supplement to help people who are suffering from some catastrophic neurological diseases,” says Lemon, who conducted the work with co-author Vadim Aksenov, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Biology at McMaster.

“We know this because mice experience the same basic cell mechanisms that contribute to neurodegeneration that humans do. All species, in fact. There is a commonality among us all.”

In addition to looking at the major markers of aging, they also discovered that the mice on the supplements experienced enhancement in vision and most remarkably in the sense of smell–the loss of which is often associated with neurological disease — improved balance and motor activity.

The next step in the research is to test the supplement on humans, likely within the next two years, and target those who are dealing with neurodegenerative diseases. The research will also need to be replicated by additional researchers to demonstrate the robustness and validity of the findings.

More than four years ago, McMaster University published a similarly optimistic news article associated with some of the same researchers, Rollo and Aksenov. In the article, the researchers claimed to have found a ‘silver bullet’ supplement that could slow brain aging.

The current research is published in the journal Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis.

Source: McMaster University/EurekAlert