TProduced in the mitochondria throughout the body from cholesterol, pregnenolone is the base material of all human hormones, including DHEA, progesterone, testosterone and estrogen. It appears to block the effects of cortisol, thus helping to prevent stress-mediated cell injury. Pregnenolone stimulates brain NMDA receptors. These receptors, which decline with age, play an important role in the function of synapses and neurons, thus influencing learning and memory. Pregnenolone levels are directly correlated with cognitive ability. Pregnenolone's anti-aging benefits may include reduction of stress, reduction of arthritic inflammation, potential maintenance of memory capability, improved mood, positive outlook and well-being, and improved sleep patterns. A handful of studies suggest that pregnenolone may help the body to cope with stress.
Taurine is a conditionally essential nutrient. As such, taurine is derived directly from the breakdown of food but the body can produce its own stores from other pre-proteins (the amino acids methionine and cysteine) as well. Taurine is found abundantly in tissues that are excitable, rich in membranes, and that generate oxidants. Its the most prevalent of all the amino acids in the tissues comprising the skeletal and cardiac muscles and the brain. As such, its critical to the proper function of the brain, heart, lungs, and blood.
Brewer's yeast, dairy products, eggs, fish, meat, ox bile and seafood, are natural sources of taurine. Taurine also increases levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine levels and helps to regulate the nervous system. Its found at consistently high concentrations in the brain, with levels declining with age. Researchers showed that the spatial learning ability of older rats was impaired, with the impairment correlated to the reduction in taurine in the striatum of the brain. Aged rats without this learning difficulty showed only modest reductions in taurine. Additionally, striatal dopamine was markedly lower in aged learning-impaired rats, demonstrating a potential interaction between taurine and dopamine that may have implications for Parkinson's Disease.
Taurine promotes the activity of superoxide dismutase, a copper containing protein enzyme that breaks down superoxide, a reactive free radical, into harmless oxygen and hydrogen peroxide. Researchers have shown that the activity of glutathione peroxidase, an antioxidant also involved in free radical binding, is notably higher in fetal brain cells exposed to taurine-rich media. Taurine also served to stabilize the fluidity of the membrane lipids and as such, participates in postponing the aging process of brain neural cells.
Tyrosine is an amino acid the body produces from dietary intake of foods such as almonds, avocados, bananas, beans, brewer's yeast, cheese, cottage cheese, dairy products, eggs, fish, legumes, lima beans, meat, milk, nuts, peanuts, pickled herring, pumpkin seeds, seafood, seeds, sesame seeds, soy, whey and whole grains. It is a precursor for the neurotransmitters L-dopa, dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine. Due to its effect on neurotransmitters, its thought that tyrosine may benefit people with Parkinson's disease, dementia, depression and other mood disorders. A study involving US Marines found that the amino acid helps to increase alertness in people suffering from sleep deprivation.
Thyroid hormones, which play many important roles throughout the body, also contain tyrosine as part of their structure. Tyrosine is used to produce the hormone thyroxin which is important in the regulation of growth and metabolism and is required for healthy skin and the maintenance of mental health.Glutamine provides fuel for various cells of the immune system and is a critical component in wound repair. Its found naturally in beans, brewer's yeast, brown rice, dairy products, eggs, fish, legumes, meat, nuts, seafood, seeds, soy, whey, and whole grains. A study from the University of Nebraska found that glutamine is potentially useful as a dietary supplement for athletes engaged in heavy exercise training.
Glutamine is also important in people who are hospitalized or bedridden, situations that put individuals at-risk for loss of muscle mass and/or strength due to lack of activity. Results of a study by Dr. Griffiths suggest that intravenous glutamine supplementation may increase the survival rate of critically ill people. Glutamine may also be useful as a nutritional supplement for people undergoing recovery from illness.
This article was adapted from Dr. Ronald Klatzs new book, The Anti-Aging Revolution (Basic Health Publications; 2003; $17.95 to order, call 1-800-575-8890; www.physicalmag.com) which he co-authored with Dr. Robert Goldman. For more info, visit: www.a4minfo.net.