Aging well is now a top consideration for growing numbers of Americans. It’s little wonder. Data from the U.S. Census show that more of us are older, with the number of Americans age 65+ predicted to double by 2060 and make up 23% of the population.
The giant Baby Boomer generation is largely behind this growth, and they are shifting the way we think about getting older, as they seek to maintain activity levels and independence well into their 70s. But they aren’t the only ones. More younger consumers are now thinking about aging well while still in their 20s and 30s, and they’re linking that process to things they can control, like diet and exercise.
“We have seen the conversation in this market evolve from ‘anti’ aging messaging to brands and products that embrace the aging process, and help consumers continue to live fully and enjoy their hobbies,” said Maria Stanieich, marketing manager for Kyowa Hakko USA Inc.
Healthy aging products are not just for older populations anymore, she reiterated. “We are seeing an increase of younger consumers recognizing how important it is to fill nutritional gaps in their diet early in life to ensure that they live longer, fuller lives. This growing interest has allowed emerging concepts and new brand offerings to meet the need for new buying habits as everyday active lifestyle is top of mind.”
Antioxidants and aging
This is driving growth for more holistic and preventive solutions to stave off the inevitable issues that arise as we age. Supplementing with antioxidants that support cellular health is a well-documented way to help.
Antioxidants are an important counter measure to the aging process, according to Heather Moday, MD, owner, Moday Center for Functional and Integrative Medicine. “To understand antioxidants, we have to understand what free radicals are and how harmful they can be to your body,” she explained. “Free radicals are unstable molecules that form when an electron is lost from that molecule. This lack of balance makes them unstable and very reactive.” In their reactivity, she added, they can cause damage to cells and tissues, which over time leads to inflammation. “Too many free radicals overwhelm our body and is linked to aging and disease,” she noted.
Antioxidants disrupt that effect by donating electrons to free radicals, which effectively shut down the oxidative process.
An exceptional antioxidant
Glutathione, often called the “master antioxidant,” is now emerging as an important option to counteract this inflammatory response and support cellular health as we age. Evidence now suggests that the high level of metabolic activity required to produce glutathione underscore its importance to cellular wellness.
Glutathione is a tripeptide, made up of three amino acids (cysteine, glycine and glutamic acid), that are produced in the cytoplasm of every cell. Glutathione not only donates electrons to stabilize free radicals but also recycles other important antioxidants like vitamins C and E.
Glutathione can be made in the body, assuming its amino acid constituents are present. However, “maintaining sufficient body compartment stores can be challenging under certain circumstances,” Stanieich explained. “A host of factors like poor diet, stress, pollution, toxins and aging deplete glutathione levels.”
While one can address the environmental and lifestyle factors, aging is, of course, a bit tougher to combat. It’s been documented that glutathione levels start to weaken after age 45, and they can fall significantly after age 60. Researchers believe we don’t make as much glutathione as we age because our bodies have lower enzyme activity and the cellular signals that trigger glutathione synthesis are less efficient. Glutathione levels also appear to fluctuate during the day, with these differences tending to be more pronounced for those age 60 and older. Again, this makes older people more vulnerable to oxidative stress.
Emerging studies suggest that glutathione supplementation can help replenish stores in the body. A 2015 clinical study, for example, demonstrated that a specific form of oral glutathione supplement called Setria® can increase both blood levels and body compartment stores of glutathione when taken daily. The researchers concluded that these findings indicate that daily consumption of GSH in supplement form is effective at increasing body compartment stores of glutathione. “This clinical trial suggests that the ultimate goal of supplementation with glutathione should be to enhance the body’s levels of this critical antioxidant,” explained Danielle Citrolo, Pharm D, VP of scientific and regulatory affairs for Kyowa Hakko USA, the manufacturer of Setria® glutathione, a branded clinically studied form of GSH.
An additional takeaway from this research, she added, is that taking a supplement with 250 milligrams of Setria® glutathione every day is a great way to promote sufficient glutathione levels and increase overall antioxidant activity in the body.
Clearly, as our population continues to age, interest in supporting proactive healthy aging will likely grow. Top-notch, branded ingredients in cutting-edge formulations, with well-designed clinical studies, will resonate with this proactive aging consumer. “There will continue to be a demand for scientifically researched and clinically safe ingredients to attract and build trust as consumers are using a range of supplements to ensure they are getting the necessary ingredients to fortify and manage their health,” Stanieich added. The icing on the cake is a well-studied, efficacious branded ingredient that can help educate and empower supplements users looking to stay healthy and live their best lives even as they age.
 U.S. Census Data presented in “Fact Sheet” Aging in the United States. Population Reference Bureau. July 15, 2019. https://www.prb.org/resources/fact-sheet-aging-in-the-united-states/
 Innova Market Insights. “Balancing Priorities for Healthy Living.” https://www.innovamarketinsights.com/trends/balancing-priorities-for-healthy-living/
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 Lan CA et al. “Low blood glutathione levels in Healthy Aging Adults.” J Lab Clin Med. 1992;120(5):720-725.
 Blanco RA et al. Diurnal variation and cysteine redox states in human plasma.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Oct;86(4):1016-1023.
 Ritchie JP, Nichenametla S et al. “Randomized controlled trial of oral glutathione supplementation on body stores of glutathione.” Eur J Nutr. 2015 Mar;54(2):251-263.