Did You Know…that researchers have uncovered a new antioxidant that makes old arteries seem young again?
Thanks to a new study from researchers at the University of Colorado, we may have a major new foothold against aging and heart disease. A new antioxidant used by researchers in a breakthrough study targets specific cell structures called mitochondria. In so doing, it may be able to reverse the age-related damage to arteries, reduce the risk of heart disease, and restore more youthful cardiovascular function.
Primarily, the new antioxidant reverses something called endothelial dysfunction, which though complex in name, is simple in its definition: it is a primary negative hallmark of aging.
The study, published in the Journal of Physiology and funded by the National Institute on Aging, started with old mice (equivalent of 70- to 80-year-old humans). The research team gave them water containing an antioxidant known as MitoQ for four weeks. What happened?
The old mice’s arteries functioned on par with those of mice less than half their age—equivalent human age of just 25 to 35 years!
Says Rachel Gioscia-Ryan, lead author of the new study: “MitoQ completely restored endothelial function in the old mice. They looked like young mice.”
How MitoQ Turns Artery Aging Around
As mentioned, scientists believe that MitoQ affects the endothelium, a thin layer of cells that lines our blood vessels. Importantly, the endothelium helps arteries dilate by producing nitric oxide. But with age, the nitric oxide needed for dilation is increasingly destroyed by another natural substance produced by our own bodies: superoxide, a reactive oxygen species.
When you’re young, superoxide is kept in check by your body’s own antioxidants, so it can’t do damage. But as you age, says Gioscia-Ryan of the Integrative Physiology of Aging Laboratory at Colorado University, “There become way more reactive oxygen species than your antioxidant defenses can handle.”
Superoxide also reduces the amount of nitric oxide your cells are able to produce in the first place. The end result of all this is oxidative stress and less blood vessel dilation—and bad news for your heart health.
A Vicious and Dangerous Cycle
Those cell structures we mentioned earlier—mitochondria—are a major source of superoxide in aging cells. That extra superoxide can even attack the mitochondria, which then produce even more superoxide, creating a vicious and dangerous cycle.
Researchers have studied whether taking antioxidant supplements can stop this cycle and improve vascular function in patients with cardiovascular disease, but they’ve mostly shown that the strategy isn’t effective.
This new University of Colorado study broke new ground by using an antioxidant that specifically targets mitochondria. Biochemists manufactured the antioxidant, called MitoQ, by adding a molecule to ubiquinone (a naturally produced antioxidant known as coenzyme Q10). According to the researchers, the additional molecule helps the MitoQ directly target mitochondria.
“Scientists think that, taken orally, antioxidants like vitamin C aren’t getting to the places where the reactive oxygen species are being made. MitoQ basically tracks right to the mitochondria.”
MitoQ is available in supplement and cream forms online and in health stores nationwide.