Some people just seem to have all the luck when it comes to getting old. Like my 83-year-old patient who drinks a little too much Scotch, but still has a 3-handicap in golf.
Or the 108-year-old who goes through a gallon of ice cream every week.
If you ask them how they do it, they’ll give credit to their good genes… and there is some truth to it.
We all have something called a FOXO3 gene. It helps protect us against aging.
German researchers at the Christian-Albrechts University studied the FOXO3 gene in 380-plus centenarians, more than 600 people in their 90s, and more than 700 people between the ages of 60 and 75. They found that certain FOXO3 gene variants are very common in 90-year-olds, and they were even more common in 100-year-olds.1
And one in three people has a special version of the FOXO3 gene that promotes longevity. It’s those variants that help them live long, vital lives.
FOXO genes are part of the process your body uses to tell your cells to begin telomere repair.2
Think of FOXO genes as a kind of a gas gauge for your body’s antioxidants. They determine if you have enough antioxidants for telomere repair to begin.
When there’s too much oxidation, too many free radical attacks, your body can’t keep up with telomere repair. But, when you lower oxidative stress, your body can get to work repairing your telomeres.
This is why antioxidants are so important. They protect your cells while your body does this important repair work.
After FOXOs give the go-ahead for telomere repair, they play another role. They shut down aging of certain cells when under oxidative attack.
And now researchers at the University of Hawaii have identified a compound that can boost the FOXO3 gene. They fed mice either normal food or food containing a low or high dose of something called CDX-085, a compound being developed by a for-profit pharmaceutical company.
The animals that were fed the higher amount of the compound experienced a significant increase in the activation of the FOXO3 gene in their heart tissue. In fact, there was a nearly 90% increase in the activation of the FOXO3 “longevity gene” in the mice fed the higher dose of CDX-085.3
What is CDX-085, you ask?
It’s a fancy code name for a synthetic form of astaxanthin.
Possibly the strongest antioxidant in the world, astaxanthin is part of the carotenoid family of nutrients, including beta-carotene. Pink-colored foods have a huge antioxidant benefit thanks to this secret nutrient.
Astaxanthin may just be the best antioxidant for DNA protection. It’s 6,000 times more effective for that than vitamin C, 800 times more than CoQ10, and 550 times more than vitamin E or green tea.4
The study at University of Hawaii studied synthetic astaxanthin that will have to undergo human trials before it can be sold. But you don’t have to turn to synthetic sources to benefit from the longevity power of astaxanthin.
The Best Sources of Astaxanthin
There are several nutritional sources of astaxanthin readily available in your grocery store. Salmon is the best food source. But be sure to look for wild sources of the pink fish.
Wild salmon contains over 450% more astaxanthin than farmed salmon. Four ounces of farm-raised salmon contains less than 1 mg of astaxanthin. The same amount of wild-caught sockeye salmon contains a healthy 4.5 mg.5
You can also find astaxanthin in other pink-colored seafood like lobster, crab, red sea bream, shrimp and salmon roe.
You can also take an astaxanthin supplement. I recommend at least 10-12 mg per day, in divided doses. To get the full benefits, take it with food, or with a tablespoon of sacha inchi or another oil.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Flachsbart F, et al., “Association of FOXO3A variation with human longevity confirmed in German centenarians.”
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2009 Feb 24;106(8):2700-5. Epub 2009 Feb 5.
2. Giulianio, V. “Nuclear Aging: The View from the Telomere end of the Chromosome – Part 3 – Telomere Molecular Biology and GUT implications – The two faces of P53.” Aging Sciences. anti-agingfirewalls.com. April 2014. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
3. “University of Hawaii reports Astaxanthin can activate the FOX03 “Longevity Gene” in mammals.” University of Hawaii at Manoa. March 28, 2017.
4. Bagchi , D. “Oxygen free radical scavenging abilities of vitamin C, E, β-carotene, pycnogenol, grape seed extract and astaxanthin in vitro” Pharmacy Sciences Creighton University School of Health Sciences. 2001, June.
5. Turujman, S. A., Wamer, W. G., Wei, R. R., and Albert, R. H. “Rapid liquid chromatographic method to distinguish wild salmon from aquacultured salmon fed synthetic astaxanthin.” J. AOAC Int., 1997;80(3):622-632.