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Mice fed a supplement containing 30 dietary ingredients did not experience a 50 per cent loss in daily movement like other non-supplemented animals, according to findings published in the current issue of Experimental Biology and Medicine.
The benefits were linked to increases in the activity of mitochondria, the power plants of the cells, as well as by reducing levels of free radicals produced by the mitochondria, say researchers from McMaster University, led by David Rollo.
"For ageing humans maintaining zestful living into later years may provide greater social and economic benefits than simply extending years of likely decrepitude," said Rollo.
"This study obtained a truly remarkable extension of physical function in old mice, far greater than the respectable extension of longevity that we previous documented. This holds great promise for extending the quality of life of ‘health span’ of humans," he added.
However, it is not known if the effects would be repeated in humans and years of clinical trials would be necessary before any firm conclusions could be drawn, cautioned the researchers.
Rollo and his co-workers used bradykinesis, or declining physical movement, as a biomarker of ageing and mortality risk. Mice were divided into two groups: One was fed a normal diet, while the other was supplemented with a cocktail of dietary supplement ingredients.
"Dosages were derived from recommended human doses adjusted for body size and the 10-fold higher metabolic rate of mice," explained the researchers.
Results showed maintenance of youthful levels of locomotor activity into old age in the supplemented animals, whereas old non-supplemented mice showed a 50 per cent loss in daily movement, said the researchers. This was accompanied by a loss of mitochondria activity, and declines in brain signalling chemicals relevant to locomotion, such as striatal neuropeptide Y. This chemical is associated with a range of functions, including maintaining energy balance, as well as effects in memory and learning.
No such declines were observed in supplemented animals, said the researchers.
"Although identifying the role of specific ingredients and interactions remains outstanding, results provide proof of principle that complex dietary cocktails can powerfully ameliorate biomarkers of aging and modulate mechanisms considered ultimate goals for aging interventions," stated Rollo and his co-workers.
The researchers confirmed that development of new and "hopefully more effective supplements" is ongoing.
The supplement was composed of vitamins B1, B3 (niacin), B6, B12, C, D, E, folic acid, beta-carotene, CoQ10, rutin, bioflavonoids, ginko biloba, ginseng, green tea extract, ginger root extract, garlic, L-Glutathione, magnesium, selenium, potassium, manganese, chromium picolinate, acetyl L-carnitine, melatonin, alpha-lipoic acid, N-acetyl cysteine, acetylsalicylic acid, cod liver oil, and flax seed oil.
The study was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
Source: Experimental Biology and Medicine
2010, Vol. 235, Pages 66-76, doi:10.1258/ebm.2009.009219
"Dietary amelioration of locomotor, neurotransmitter and mitochondrial aging"
Authors: V. Aksenov, J. Long, S. Lokuge, J.A. Foster, J. Liu, C.D. Rollo