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Tree of Longevity – understanding how supplements work

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Pathways? Hallmarks? Biomarkers? Understanding the longevity supplements lingo can help you make better choices for your healthspan.

Longevity supplements differ from other ‘generic supplements’ as they do not provide ingredients to the body simply to prevent vitamin deficiencies; instead they provide the body with ingredients that can act on pathways to change the rate at which we age.

However, aging is an accumulation of damage over time; multiple features and traits within an organism, on all levels of biological organisation, undergo transformation during aging and these changes can be measured and mapped as ‘biomarkers of aging’.

In order to understand what aging is and what it does to our bodies, the hallmarks of aging were devised.

Hallmarks

Primary hallmarks are causes of damage; they are genomic instability, telomere attrition, epigenetic alterations and loss of proteostasis.

Antagonistic hallmarks are responses to damage; they are deregulated nutrient sensing, mitochondrial dysfunction and cellular senescence,

Integrative hallmarks are the end result of the previous two and culprits of the phenotype; these are stem cell exhaustion and altered intercellular communication.

Getting your head round the concept that longevity supplements affect the molecular pathways controlling the hallmarks of aging, rather than directly acting on the hallmarks, is no mean feat. To that end, we have devised the Tree of Longevity, which first made its appearance in our Supplements Market Intelligence Report.

Here’s how it works: imagine the hallmarks of aging to be a tree; the molecular pathways controlling the hallmarks of aging would be the roots, and the ingredients within longevity supplements would be the fertiliser, influencing these pathways to decelerate the rate of aging.

Access to our supplements report can be found here, and check out our supplements company profiles here.

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Eleanor Garth
Deputy Editor Now a science and medicine journalist, Eleanor worked as a consultant for university spin-out companies and provided research support at Imperial College London and various London hospitals in a former life.
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