When I was a kid, my dad—a high school biology teacher—introduced to me the value of natural bioactive compounds that were essential for proper functioning of a body. You know, vitamins.
In the kitchen cupboard were a few bottles of pills. These hewed to the letter vitamins. He'd reach and grab a bottle to show me. “This one is vitamin C,” he’d say. “You need it so you don’t get sick. Chew it.”
I popped it in my mouth. I chewed it.
Out came another bottle. “These are the B complexes of vitamins,” he’d say. “You need this for energy. Swallow.”
I grabbed my glass of milk. Down the hatch!
So the importance of vitamins was inculcated in me at a young age.
Later on in life, even after I had begun working in the industry, the old man introduced me to the Swanson mail-order catalog. Here was the section on blood-sugar management. He’d ask me about alpha-lipoid acid and cinnamon. Here was another section on brain health. He’d ask me about bacopa and healthy fats.
What was happening here was I’ve been given a lifelong lesson in supplementation throughout one’s life—from filling nutrient gaps as a youngster to staving off chronic degenerative diseases of older age. This is the game.
That’s a lot of runway to travel for the use of supplements in the pursuit of aging gracefully.
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I saw my dad over Thanksgiving down in Florida. Despite his best lifelong efforts at staying in shape and taking supplements, at age 88 he had a twice-daily regimen of pills to take, mostly pharma offerings. Not a lot, maybe five or six. He had been waging a long battle with blood-sugar issues. Time was, after dinner we’d go out for a long walk through the neighborhood and to the tennis courts where he’d play a few times a week. That might be the best thing one can do when dealing with blood-sugar issues—let your working muscles use up the glucose instead of leaving it to accumulate in the blood and lead to insulin spikes.
A study just published in September 2022 concluded that as short as a two- to five-minute walk after meals quells the insulin issue.
But Covid hit, everyone’s physical activity declined, and now he’s taking the blood-sugar drug, Glucophage.
Also in the group of pills was magnesium—and who isn’t deficient in the master mineral? Fair enough.
There’s probably space for all of the above as we get older—healthy lifestyle pursuits like walking or tennis, supplementation to maintain or rebuild youthful levels of compounds like coQ10 coursing through your system, and then to help contend with life-stage issues; and maybe some pharmaceuticals when all else fails.
In this issue of the Natural Products Insider digital magazine, we take you through a number of natural bioactive compounds worthy of further investigation for supplement formulators and brands in the healthy aging space. Download the entire digital magazine at no cost to you other than filling in a few data points on yourself. After you register on the site once, you’ll never have to do it again, and all future issues of the digital magazine are yours for free to benefit your professional life. Read it and reap!