Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement
And Anti-Aging Therapies
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is an adrenal hormone that is the precursor for steroid hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. DHEA declines precipitously with advancing age in both men and women. In 1981, the Life Extension Foundation introduced DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) to its members through an article that described the multiple benefits that this hormone might produce. However, the general public did not learn about DHEA supplements until 1996, when the benefits of DHEA were touted by the news media and in several popular books. DHEA became credible to the medical establishment when the New York Academy of Sciences published a book entitled DHEA and Aging. This book provided scientific validation for the many life extending effects of DHEA
Dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA, is a steroid hormone synthesized from cholesterol and secreted by the adrenal glands. The adrenals are walnut-sized organs located right above your kidneys. The average adult makes about 25 mg of DHEA per day (some more, some less) with dwindling production as we get older. Men at all ages have more DHEA than women.
Natural DHEA production is at its highest in your twenties: by the time we reach seventy we only make about 20% of the DHEA we had when we were young. A decline in DHEA with the passage of time is clearly what nature intended — and as far as we know, a healthy process. This is only one of the major reasons we don’t recommend self-prescribing DHEA through over-the-counter products.
Another reason is that DHEA is a very powerful precursor to all of your major sex hormones: estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. (It’s molecular structure is closely related to testosterone). We call it the “mother hormone” — the source that fuels the body’s metabolic pathway:
The hormonal stimulus for sex drive in both men and women is testosterone, which declines with advancing age in both sexes. Testosterone also plays an important role in maintaining muscle mass and strength and bone density. The hormone is often administered to aging men and women as a topical cream, but oral testosterone supplements and injectable forms are also available.
Estrogen and Progesterone
The "female" steroid hormones estrogen and progesterone play important roles in maintaining bone density and strength, sexual function, mental function and, in women, in countering the effects of the menopause. Recent studies indicate that estrogen may be an effective treatment for age-associated memory problems.* Both estrogen and progesterone are available in a variety of forms -- natural or synthetic, oral or topical. There is considerable interest in the use of plant-derived phytoestrogens, which have weak (but safe) estrogenic activity as a possible replacement for drug forms of estrogen. One product, Natural Estrogen, has been specially designed for this purpose.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, which is located beneath the brain. Melatonin is a highly potent antioxidant, which has been described as the pacemaker of the aging clock in humans. It is released every night as part of our time-dependent biorhythms to help induce sleep and recuperation from fatigue. Published studies indicate the importance of maintaining youthful levels of melatonin to help protect against age-related degenerative diseases.
Pregnenolone is known as the "mother hormone" because it is the precursor of a number of hormones including DHEA, testosterone and estrogen. Studies have demonstrated that the neurosteroid Pregnenolone has a stimulatory effect on memory.
B Complex Vitamins
Folic Acid, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12
Cardiovascular disease, the number-one killer of men and women, claims the lives of almost 40% of the more than 2.4 million Americans who die each year. Today, about 64 million Americans have some form of cardiovascular disease. Homocysteine a nonessential, sulfur-containing amino acid, is an independent marker of risk for the development of cardiovascular disease. Back in 1981, we first recommended that members reduce homocysteine levels by taking folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. Some researchers consider homocysteine as important a cardiovascular risk factor as low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Homocysteine can make blood clot more easily than normal, increasing the risk of both heart attack and death by heart attack. Inadequate levels of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 can lead to increased homocysteine levels.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an essential component of healthy mitochondrial function. It is incorporated into cells' mitochondria throughout the body where it facilitates and regulates the oxidation of fats and sugars into energy. Aging humans have been found to have over 50% less CoQ10 on average compared to that of young adults. This finding makes CoQ10 one of the most important nutrients for people over 30 to supplement with. About 95% of cellular energy is produced in the mitochondria. The mitochondria are the cells "energy powerhouses" and many maladies have been referred to as "mitochondrial disorders." A growing body of scientific research links a deficiency of CoQ10 to age-related mitochondrial disorders.
The amino acid acetyl-L-carnitine boosts mitochondrial energy production through its ability to facilitate fatty acid transport and oxidation in the cell. Since 1995, Life Extension members have been supplementing with acetyl-L-carnitine and deriving the many benefits this form of carnitine has shown in published studies. With the discovery of acetyl-L-carnitine arginate the benefits of acetyl-L-carnitine can now be greatly augmented. Acetyl-L-Carnitine Arginate is a patented form of carnitine that stimulates the growth of neurites in the brain. Studies show that acetyl-l-carnitine-arginate stimulates the growth of new neurites by an astounding 19.5% (as much as Nerve Growth Factor itself). Acetyl-l-carnitine-arginate acts together with acetyl-l-carnitine to increase neurite outgrowth.
The most common cause of disability and death in the United States is an abnormal clot that develops inside an artery to cause a heart attack (blocked blood vessel in the heart), or a stroke (blocked blood vessel in the brain). Aspirin has an immediate and lasting effect on blood platelets, making them less likely to clump together and making blood flow smoothly.
Carnosine is a multifunctional dipeptide made up of a chemical combination of the amino acids beta-alanine and L-histidine. It is found both in food and in the human body. Long-lived cells such as nerve cells (neurons) and muscle cells (myocytes) contain high levels of carnosine. Muscle levels of carnosine correlate with the maximum life spans of animals. Carnosine levels decline with age. Muscle levels decline 63% from age 10 to age 70, which may account for the normal age-related decline in muscle mass and function. Since carnosine acts as a pH buffer, it can keep on protecting muscle cell membranes from oxidation under the acidic conditions of muscular exertion. Carnosine enables the heart muscle to contract more efficiently through enhancement of calcium response in heart myocytes. Aging causes irreversible damage to the body's proteins. The underlying mechanism behind this damage is glycation. A simple definition of glycation is the cross-linking of proteins and sugars to form non-functioning structures in the body. The process of glycation can be superficially seen as unsightly wrinkled skin. Glycation is also an underlying cause of age-related catastrophes including the neurologic, vascular, and eye disorders. Carnosine is a unique dipeptide that interferes with the glycation process.
Studies on omega-3 fatty acids are so impressive that an agency of the National Institutes of Health published a report stating that fish oil can help reduce deaths from heart disease. The FDA itself states supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may actually reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. There are several mechanisms attributed to fish oil's beneficial effects. The latest government report cites the triglyceride-lowering effects of fish oil on reducing heart and blood vessel disorders. Another beneficial mechanism of fish oil is to protect healthy blood flow in arteries.
Green Tea Extract
What makes green tea extract such an important nutrient are the large volumes of published scientific findings that validate its multiple biological benefits. The most significant findings involve studies showing that green tea extract helps maintain cellular DNA and membrane structural integrity. Decades of research shows that green tea inhibits the development of undesirable cell colonies. The active constituents in green tea are powerful antioxidants called polyphenols (catechins) and flavonols. Several catechins are present in green tea and account for the bulk of favorable research reports. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is the most powerful of these catechins. EGCG functions as an antioxidant that is about 25-100 times more potent than vitamins C and E. One cup of green tea may provide 10-40 mg of polyphenols and has antioxidant effects that are greater than a serving of broccoli, spinach, carrots, or strawberries. Theoretically, the high antioxidant activity of green tea makes it beneficial for protecting the body from oxidative damage due to free radicals.
Lipoic Acid is a highly potent antioxidant that counteracts reactive free radicals in the mitochondria, the power plants of cells where energy for all cellular activities is generated. Some scientists believe that mitochondrial free radicals play an important role in human aging, and have theorized that extra amounts of free-radical inhibiting compounds such as lipoic acid may be able to help slow aging. Lipoic acid is also effective in recycling other antioxidants such as Vitamin E back into their original form after they detoxify free radicals. There also is evidence that lipoic acid can reduce glycation damage due to excess glucose in the blood, which may be involved in aging. Lipoic acid consists of two different forms (isomers) that have vastly different properties. The "R" form is the biologically active component (native to the body) that is responsible for lipoic acid's phenomenal antioxidant effect.
L-alpha glycerylphosphoryl-choline (GPC) is a byproduct of phosphatidylcholine and helps to boost acetylcholine. It aids in the synthesis of several brain phospholipids, which increases the availability of acetylcholine in various brain tissues. The GPC form of choline has been shown in studies to help protect against cognitive decline normally seen in aging.
Until recently, the only options for aging individuals to promote replenishment of the declining numbers of mitochondria (the cell’s “energy powerhouses”) in their bodies were long-term calorie restriction or exhaustive physical activity—difficult or impractical for most aging people. Now there is a viable alternative. PQQ activates genes that promote the formation of new mitochondria. It also beneficially interacts with genes directly involved in mitochondrial health. These same genes support healthy body weight, normal fat and sugar metabolism, and youthful cellular proliferation.
Findings from published scientific literature indicate that resveratrol may be the most effective compound for maintaining optimal health and promoting longevity. Resveratrol is a phytoalexin, a polyphenolic compound which is produced by Vitis vinifera as a response to attack by molds. Research funded by the Life Extension Foundation showed that a combination of low-dose (20 mg) resveratrol plus grapeseed extract mimicked many of the favorable gene expression changes seen in calorie-restricted animals. Other studies, however, indicate that higher doses may be needed to obtain all of resveratrol’s positive benefits including promoting healthy insulin sensitivity, enhanced mitochondrial function, reduced expression of inflammatory factors, and protection against the effects of a high-fat diet.
Many people think of whey protein as a supplement only used by athletes wanting to increase their muscle mass. But evolving research suggests the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) leucine, isoleucine, and valine and other fractions found in whey can mimic the longevity benefits of calorie restriction. Whey protein can also have a positive impact on muscle construction and immunity due to its BCAA profile and naturally occurring lactoferrin and immunoglobins.
Since the 1930s it has been known that a diet restricted in calories, but otherwise rich in nutrients, dramatically extends the life span of experimental animals. Over two thousand studies have confirmed the effectiveness of calorie restriction (or "undernutrition without malnutrition, " as Roy Walford calls it) in a wide variety of species. While the effectiveness of this antiaging regimen is likely far greater than others currently available, the difficulty of the regimen for most people is also far greater. Serious life-extensionists should nevertheless consider trying at least a mild version of the diet.