An easy key to living longer
Q: Like many people, I’m interested in any information I can find on increasing longevity. I want to get as much out of life as I can. Are there any secrets you can share to living longer?
Dr. Wright: One of the best anti-aging nutrients to take for a lifetime is ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid (more commonly known as vitamin C) is one of the body’s main protectors against toxins, carcinogens, invading micro organisms, and stress of any kind. There’s just one problem: Our bodies are born with a genetic defect that makes it impossible for us to produce ascorbic acid on our own. Instead, we have to depend on outside sources in order to provide an important defense to help keep us optimally healthy. Textbooks of human genetics and pediatrics have repeated this incontrovertible fact for almost a century, but somehow they’ve managed to entirely neglect its full implications for optimal health, anti-aging, and longevity.
Tens of thousands of other species make their own ascorbic acid in their livers or kidneys. Their ascorbic acid production increases when they ingest a toxin or carcinogen, when their bodies are invaded by viruses or other microorganisms, and whenever they’re placed under any stress, such as extremes of heat or cold, emotional stress, or sleep deprivation. Why? Because ascorbic acid is one of Nature’s primary stress fighters and detoxifiers in nearly all animal species, including birds and fish. Without the ability to make ascorbic acid, humans are missing a major built-in biochemical defense for an entire lifetime. And without dietary ascorbic acid, we’d all be dead in a matter of weeks.
Researchers from UCLA conducted a 10-year study of over 11,000 adults between the ages of 25 and 74. They concluded that men who took (only) 800 milligrams of ascorbic acid daily lived six years longer than men who took only 60 milligrams daily.
Similarly, in a study of over 19,000 adults ages 45 to 79, those with the lowest plasma ascorbic acid levels were twice as likely to die over a four-year time period as compared with those with the highest levels.
I’m surprised that with all the evidence, only a minority of anti-aging enthusiasts are using optimal amounts of ascorbic acid for health and longevity. Most of the time, people tell me they’re taking 1 or 2 grams once or twice a day. Occasionally, though, a serious follower of anti-aging principles will get it right and tell me that he’s using bowel tolerance levels of ascorbic acid.
Bowel tolerance is the “copy Nature” concept of ascorbic acid supplementation originated by Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling. It means taking as much supplemental ascorbic acid (sodium ascorbate, calcium, magnesium ascorbate, and various forms of Ester-C will all do the job) as your body can absorb. Your gastro-intestinal tract lets you know how much you’re absorbing, and then how much is too much by producing excess gas. If you don’t cut back on the amount you’re taking, the excess gas will continue to escalate into diarrhea.
Many healthy adults 40 years old or older can take 1 to 2 grams of ascorbic acid twice a day with no excess gas, but when you’re coming down with something, or when you’re under significant stress, you can take considerably more. With the flu or very bad colds, many people can take 5 to 10 grams two or three times daily before their bodies tell them they’re taking too much.