Health & Wellbeing

Antioxidant found to wind back the clock on blood vessel function by up to 20 years

Antioxidant found to wind back...
Researchers have found that a commercially available supplement can improve dilation of a subjects’ arteries by 42 percent in response to increased blood flow
Researchers have found that a commercially available supplement can improve dilation of a subjects’ arteries by 42 percent in response to increased blood flow
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Researchers have found that a commercially available supplement can improve dilation of a subjects’ arteries by 42 percent in response to increased blood flow
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Researchers have found that a commercially available supplement can improve dilation of a subjects’ arteries by 42 percent in response to increased blood flow

Much mystery surrounds the physiological processes by which humans age, but scientists are learning more all the time. With this knowledge come new possibilities around how we can not only slow them down, but possibly even reverse them. A new breakthrough at the University of Colorado is the latest advance in the area, demonstrating how a chemically altered nutritional supplement may well reverse aging of the blood vessels, in turn giving cardiovascular health a vital boost.

The human body is pretty good at fending off oxidative stress when we're young, protecting molecules from critical damage caused by rogue molecules known as free radicals. These are molecules that have found themselves with at least one unpaired electron, so they set off in search of a match, often robbing another molecule of theirs and setting off a chain reaction of irreversible molecular damage.

Antioxidants are handy because they intervene and palm off an electron to the free radical, nipping this process in the bud. These are naturally produced in sufficient numbers in our youth, but as we grow older and free radicals become more prevalent, the antioxidants find themselves overwhelmed. When it comes to our blood vessels, this renders them stiffer and less able dilate in response to heightened blood flow as the free radicals cause damage to their lining, which is known as the endothelium.

This is one of the reasons nutrition experts place such a big emphasis on incorporating good sources of antioxidants into our diets, but some are more effective than others. While foods with naturally occurring antioxidants are a good source, recent research has shown those offered by oral supplements like vitamin C or vitamin E to be ineffective, or possibly even harmful.

The new discovery at University of Colorado runs counter to this. The study centers on the commercially available supplement MitoQ, which is created by chemically altering a naturally-occurring antioxidant called Coenzyme Q10 to make it bind with mitochondria inside cells. This is the first time scientists have examined how an antioxidant that targets mitochondria can impact vascular health.

The team did this by giving 20 mg of MitoQ a day to half of a group of 20 healthy men and woman aged 60 to 79. The other half were given a placebo. They then observed how well the endothelium functioned over a period of six weeks by tracking how the arteries dilated in response to increased blood flow.

A two-week break followed to allow the body to wash away any residuals, and then the groups swapped places, with the original placebo group administered the supplement instead. The researchers found that on average, the supplement improved dilation of the subjects' arteries by 42 percent.

Going by that one indicator, the researchers say this equates to the performance of blood vessels in someone 15 to 20 years younger. If found to have this effect over the long term, this kind of improvement in cardiovascular health would be associated with a reduction in heart disease of around 13 percent.

The researchers say that the study showed the improved dilation to be a result of reduced oxidative stress, and that participants with stiffer arteries experienced reduced stiffness when taking the supplement. They will carry out a follow-up study in the coming months to consolidate their findings, verify them with a larger group of subjects and improve their understanding of how the compound interacts with mitochondria.

"Exercise and eating a healthy diet are the most well-established approaches for maintaining cardiovascular health," senior author Doug Seals, professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado. "But the reality is, at the public health level, not enough people are willing to do that. We're looking for complementary, evidence-based options to prevent the age-related changes that drive disease. These supplements may be among them."

The research was published in the journal Hypertension.

Source: University of Colorado

10 comments
IanHoldsworth
Wake me when it's been peer reviewed
Don Duncan
Most people are looking for a quick fix, a pill. This usually has side effects that outweigh the immediate benefits but people are lazy and suffer the consequences. I prefer to do my own research and experimentation. Healthy living is not a mystery to those who read and think constantly. I enjoy that. It's entertainment for me, as contrasted to the mainstream media crap that requires no thought.
Signguy
The biggest mistake is the Vitamins C & E mentioned are chemical man made substitudes for the real thing. Man cannot compete with God.
ljaques
I tried CoQ10 for several months and didn't notice any difference in mood, energy, BP, cholesterol, or pain levels. Good luck with the tests.
JimFox
SignguyApril 25th, 2018 "The biggest mistake is the Vitamins C & E mentioned are chemical man made substitudes for the real thing." C & E are naturally- occurring in fruits and vegetables Just stop making ignorant statements
Jean Lamb
CoQ10 helps me a great deal with energy levels, though I can't take too much or my a-fib gets cranky. The dose I'm on works well for me.
James Brett
I read that taking MitoQ can also have some serious health side effects.
PK Faldet
Negative side-effects (!): "The targeted anti‐oxidant MitoQ causes mitochondrial swelling and depolarization in kidney tissue" https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5880956/
sidmehta
"MitoQ Limited provided supplements and some financial support." - From the Univ of Colorado website
VicCherikoff
From my research and that of my colleagues, it appears that Australian wild foods contain the micronutrients that improve vascularity; reduce metaflammation so that our red blood cells function better and blood vessels remain cleaner and more elastic; and are a source of protective components that repair and maintain tissues and organs; among other beneficial actions. Work with a 14 wild food mixture of lyophilized wild fruits, dried herbs and spices combined with another 13 global 'superfoods' in a blend called LIFE has begun as a nutritional 'top up' to a modern diet with significant, positive, interim results. The research is based on the observations of studies in 1908, 1971 and 2016 that Indigenous Australians, Africans and Americans had very rare to non-existent incidences of cancers, ischemic heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and many of the myriad diseases of nutrition that are epidemic today. Perhaps we still have more to learn from the World's longest living culture.