Risks of Self-Medication With Anti-Aging Supplements

Anti-aging supplements can support healthy aging and make you feel much younger. Still, they can also have risks of self-medication like side effects, abuse, and interactions with prescription drugs associated with them. It is essential to understand the anti-aging supplements you are taking, why you are taking them, and to discuss your best options with your healthcare providers.

Key takeaways:
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    Some anti-aging supplements can boost healthy aging and reduce your risks of age-related diseases while others are not proven to work in humans yet.
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    That an anti-aging supplement is natural does not necessarily mean it is safe for you.
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    Consult your healthcare provider when you’re considering taking anti-aging supplements to get the best options suitable for you if any.

The basics

What is aging?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defined body aging as the buildup of numerous types of cellular and molecular damage over time which results in a gradual decline in physical and mental abilities, an increased disease risk, and death eventually.

What are anti-aging supplements?

Anti-aging supplements consist of vitamins, minerals, botanical compounds, enzymes, and amino acids available in forms such as tablets, capsules, powder, and soft gels. They are one of the approaches to anti-aging interventions and their proposed mechanisms of action include; retarding biological aging, preventing age-related diseases, or a combination of both.

Examples of anti-aging supplements include:

  • Minerals such as magnesium, zinc, and melatonin.
  • Vitamins such as vitamin D and E.
  • Botanical compounds such as curcumin.
  • Amino acids such as creatine and glucosamine.
  • Antioxidants such as Coenzyme Q10 and resveratrol.

What is self-medication?

Self-medication involves the use of medicinal products (for example, drugs and supplements) to treat self-diagnosed symptoms or conditions without consulting your healthcare provider or without medical supervision.

The truth about anti-aging supplements

Have you ever wondered about what scares people of aging and why they would go to any length to reverse age-related changes?

It might be the same fears that you have.

An online survey conducted on behalf of Pfizer's get old initiative found that 87% of Americans have at least one fear when they think about aging. The number one fear with 23% was fear of a decline in physical ability, followed by memory loss (15%), a chronic illness (12%), running out of money (12%), and death (10%).

This relates to why the size of the anti-aging market is expanding globally. The global anti-aging market was estimated to be worth 57.5 billion USD in 2020 by Statista and is expected to see a compound yearly growth rate of 7% between 2021 and 2026.

But, is self-medicating with anti-aging supplements a safe choice?

Read on as we explore the potential health benefits, risks, and safety considerations of anti-aging supplements.

There is no doubt that nothing else beats healthy living habits such as exercise, a healthy diet, and weight control in helping to avoid diseases and improving your quality of life. However, some anti-aging supplements are beneficial. Two examples of such supplements are.

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a substance that is naturally present in the body. People with some diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart failure have reduced levels of Coenzyme Q10 and researchers have found supplementation with it to be beneficial.

A systematic review of coenzyme Q10 in the treatment of heart failure involving nine randomized trials in 824 patients showed a trend towards an improvement in ejection fraction which makes it suitable for adjunctive care, although no convincing evidence was found to support its use for heart failure.

Coenzyme Q10 is not FDA approved to treat any medical condition.

Resveratrol

Resveratrol (RV) is a popular polyphenolic compound found in a variety of plants, including grape, peanut, and berry fruits. It is well known for its link to many health benefits, including anti-obesity, antitumor, antidiabetic, antioxidants, anti-aging effects, and glucose metabolism.

Over the past two decades, billions of dollars have been spent on resveratrol research and although its positive effects have been described in cell culture studies and experimental models, the evidence is less conclusive in randomized human trials.

For example, in individuals with metabolic syndrome, oral resveratrol did not appear to lower blood pressure, blood sugar, or cholesterol levels in the body.

Consult your healthcare provider when you’re considering taking anti-aging supplements to get the best options suitable for you if any.

Potential risks of self-medication

With supplements, “natural” does not always mean “safe” for you.

Supplements can help to support healthy aging and slow aging effects but, they are not a substitute for healthy lifestyle habits and medications.

It is important to note the following risks associated with anti-aging supplements.

The effectiveness of most anti-aging supplements has only been tested in animal models and cell cultures, and not in humans. For example, higher dietary resveratrol intake does not appear to be associated with a decreased risk of heart disease compared to a lesser intake.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't have the authority to review dietary supplement products for effectiveness and safety before marketing them and this means that not every product out there is safe.

They may interact with your medications or pose harmful risks if you have certain medical conditions such as the interaction between coenzyme Q10 and warfarin leading to reduced responsiveness to warfarin.

Many anti-aging supplements have not been tested on pregnant women, lactating women, or children.

No anti-aging supplement has been clinically proven to extend human lives.

You are likely to get side effects if you take them at high doses or if you take many different supplements together. For example, vitamin D overdose can result in hypercalcemia with symptoms such as vomiting and kidney injury.

Some anti-aging supplements might increase the risk of bleeding during or after surgery. For example, resveratrol.

Safety considerations

It is important to talk with your doctor or other healthcare providers before taking anti-aging supplements to help determine, if any, the supplements that are suitable for you.

If you’re scheduled for surgery, inform your healthcare provider about the anti-aging supplements you’re taking.

Follow the instructions on the labels of the supplements you’re taking.

If you observe side effects, inform your healthcare provider and submit a report to the FDA.

The bottom line

Some anti-aging supplements can boost healthy aging and reduce your risks of age-related diseases while others are not proven to work in humans yet. Anti-aging supplements may pose serious health risks like overdose and drug interactions if you don’t make informed decisions. Cultivating healthy lifestyle habits such as a healthy diet, enough sleep, and regular exercise is the best way to promote longevity and overall health.

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