How often do you incorporate vitamins into your daily diet? You may take a daily dose of vitamin C because you recognise that doing so may help to protect you from catching a cold, or you may take omega-3 fatty acids because you understand that they may protect you from heart disease, while also enhancing your overall brain health.
There are certain vitamins that we take on a daily basis because we are aware of their benefits, but what about the essential minerals and vitamins that we are unaware of? One nutrition scientist has decided to explore the notion that some vitamins may contain unknown life-prolonging properties.
Bruce Ames, Ph.D., unravels his ten years of research studying the connection between vitamins and human life longevity in a “perspective” article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper, published in October 2018, details how there are 30 known essential minerals and vitamins which may work to prolong your time on Earth (and have you feeling healthier, too!), and 11 unknown substances that are not yet classified as vitamins but should be due to their possible life-extending properties.
Ames discusses how your enzymes need vitamins and minerals to work to protect you from oxidative stress. When your body lacks nutrients, it will work to distribute the essential vitamins and minerals to areas that need immediate nutrients in order to function, which means that certain enzymes may not get the nutrients they need, ultimately affecting your “long-term psychological needs.”
One unique point-of-view in Ames’ article details how the research going into preventing degenerative disease is different than scientists looking into cures. He claims that uncovering the secret to longevity “will involve expertise in metabolism, nutrition, biochemistry and genetic regulatory elements and polymorphisms". Ames continues to discuss how understanding which vitamins may help to prevent age-related illnesses may not only help to protect people from obtaining a degenerative disease but having this knowledge could also save the health care system a lot of money. For example, he explains, that if people knew that vitamin D and calcium supplements could help to prevent osteoporosis, it might help the EU to save around €4 billion - just from osteoporosis.
You may remember your mother setting the timer on the oven and telling you that you could only indulge in that yummy desert once you’ve finished the cooked vegetables mounted on your plate, and the concept of consuming your veggies, fruit, health foods first and foremost is something you may want to take into adulthood. Ames stresses that "Diet is very important for our long-term health and this theoretical framework just reinforces that you should try to do what your mother told you: eat your veggies, eat your fruit, give up sugary soft drinks and empty carbohydrates”.
Ames claims that this subject requires more research because there are still unknown vitamin substances that are yet to be discovered. However, in the meantime, you may want to check out which known vitamins and minerals will benefit your current and future well-being!