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Can taking certain supplements regularly magically increase your lifespan? It’s complicated.
Or as Kim Yawitz, R.D., more sums it up: “The five most important behaviors for long-term health and longevity (according to a large 2013 study) are never smoking cigarettes, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol intake, working out regularly, and sleeping at least seven hours per 24-hour period. Yawitz adds that if you’re not doing these five things for the long-haul, “then taking supplements for longevity is like putting premium gas in a beat-up car with three flat tires and a bad clutch.”
Indeed, as Yawitz emphasizes, no single supplement will help you live longer. Still, “there’s some evidence that certain supplements could help support healthy aging—assuming you eat pretty well, work out, and take good care of yourself.”
So how can supplements potentially help promote longevity?
“Some supplements are thought to prevent or even reverse biochemical changes associated with aging, such as cellular damage, decreased cellular energy, and DNA mutations,” Yawitz says. “Others target systemic inflammation—a major contributor to life-shortening conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.”
While supplements aren’t a panacea, when coupled with the aforementioned five behaviors, the research on them certainly seems promising.
When looking for supplements, there are some important guidelines to keep in mind, especially since “there’s not a lot of oversight in the supplements’ industry, so it can be tricky to know for sure if health claims on product labels are legit,” says Yawitz. That’s why she recommends people look for supplements that have a third-party tested symbol (such as NSF or Informed Choice) on the label. “This means that the manufacturer has paid for an independent lab to test the product for purity and to ensure that the nutrient data on the label are accurate,” she says.
Another important note: “Checking with your doctor or pharmacist before starting a supplement can help prevent harmful drug interactions, particularly if you take prescription or over-the-counter medications,” says Yawitz.
With all this in mind, let’s take a look at six supplements experts say may help support longevity when combined with a healthy lifestyle.