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New Antioxidant Makes Old Blood Vessels Look Young

S u m m a r y :
A new antioxidant makes blood vessels in older adults look 15 to 20 years younger, says a new study published in the journal Hypertension.

New Chemically Modified Antioxidant

A new, mitochondria-specific antioxidant (named MitoQ) ‘reverses’ ageing in the blood vessels of old people who consume it. The new study, conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder, puts pharmaceutical-grade nutritional supplements, or nutraceuticals, under the spotlight: the latter might possibly be used in the fight against heart disease.

The findings also challenge the widespread belief that oral antioxidants are ineffective; the study authors argue that they can generate measurable health benefits. According to lead author, Matthew Rossman, the paper “suggests that therapies like this may hold real promise for reducing the risk of age-related cardiovascular disease.”

Enhanced Artery Dilation

The participants of the study were 60 to 79-year-old men and women from the Boulder area, USA. 50% of them took 20 mg of chemically modified supplement called MitoQ while the other half took a placebo (MitoQ is made from natural antioxidant Coenzyme Q10, and it is made to adhere to mitochondria). The function of the blood vessel lining of the volunteers was then evaluated 6 weeks later. The aim of the researchers was to measure the dilation of arteries pertaining to increased blood flow.

Then, two weeks later, the two groups of participants swapped roles: the first one took the placebo instead of the MitoQ, and the other one took the supplement instead of the placebo. The same tests were repeated thereafter.

The findings show that the consumption of the supplement is linked with an improved artery dilation by 42%, making them comparable to blood vessels of individuals 15 to 20 years younger. This enhanced artery dilation is the result of a lowered oxidative stress. If this positive effect is maintained, the risk in heart disease is thought to decrease by 13%.

Young Again!

Also, participants of the second group (those who initially took the placebo) who had stiffer arteries experienced a reduced stiffness after taking the supplements. It is believed that this stiffness is due to age because of oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Younger people normally produce antioxidants in sufficient amounts to get rid of these free radicals, but with age, this process does not remain the same, and mitochondria gradually begin producing more free radicals while the ageing body’s antioxidant system lags behind.

“This study breathes new life into the discredited theory that supplementing the diet with antioxidants can improve health,” said Seals. “It suggests that targeting a specific source-mitochondria-may be a better way to reduce oxidative stress and improve cardiovascular health with ageing.”

The results will soon be confirmed as the authors intend to conduct a follow-up study with a larger sample size.

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