The Elusive Fountain of Youth Is Made of Anti-Oxidants

The Elusive Fountain of Youth Is Made of Anti-Oxidants

Contrary to what Juan Ponce de Leon thought when he searched for it in the 16th century, the fountain of youth is made of anti-oxidants, not water, and it's a lot easier to find than the famed explorer thought.

In a study published in January's American Journal of Physiology, Christiaan Lecawenburgh, a professor in UF's College of Health and Human Performance, found that anti-oxidant intervention, which can come from taking vitamin supplements or from a steady routine of exercise, slows parts of the aging process.

"Our most significant finding was that anti-oxidant intervention slows down basal skeletal muscle oxidation, which causes the body to age," said Leeuwenburgh, who did the study with researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine. "This is the first evidence of this."

Aging And Tissue And Muscle Loss

Regular exercise or a diet including plenty of anti-oxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C and beta carotene, all of which fight the tendency of oxygen to slowly break down muscle mass, might protect against the type of tissue and muscle loss that occur as individuals grow older, Leeuwenburgh said.

"We were surprised to see that regular exercise training was about as effective in reducing levels of oxidation as a diet of anti-oxidants," Leeuwenburgh said. "The combined effect of anti-oxidants and exercise, however, didn't cause a significantly lower level of muscle oxidation, which was interesting."

The study also was the first of its kind to show that levels of oxidation in the body can be determined noninvasively, by using specific markers in the urine.

Aging And Heart Disease

Leeuwenburgh recommends daily anti-oxidant intake, especially vitamin E, because it also has been proven to protect against heart disease. Exercising more and eating less also will help people live longer, he says.

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