Science Behind Anti-Aging Supplements: Do They Work?

Despite anti-aging myths, dive into the science behind supplements. Find out if curcumin and collagen hold the key to slowing down the clock and boosting your health.

Amy Brownstein
By Amy Brownstein
Jovan Mijailovic
Edited by Jovan Mijailovic

Published May 10, 2024.

A doctor looking at anti-aging supplements.

In this article

1. Quercetin

2. NAD+, NR, NMN

3. Curcumin

4. Resveratrol

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While aging is inevitable, marked by cellular decline and declining health, completely reversing it isn't currently possible.

But, you can slow the process and improve biomarkers—like cholesterol, blood sugar, and inflammation. A healthy diet, sleep, stress reduction, strength training, and cardio can help. But what if you've already built a strong foundation?

Let's explore eight supplements and two medications linked to anti-aging claims, analyzing the science and when InsideTracker might recommend them for specific age-related factors.



Key takeaways

  • While some anti-aging supplements show promise, the research is still ongoing.
  • Brewed green tea may have brain-protective properties. It could also be helpful for women with cholesterol issues.
  • Curcumin can help those with already elevated inflammation markers. For others, it might not be beneficial.
  • Low-dose vitamin K may support bone health, especially for postmenopausal women. But, people on blood thinners need to consult a doctor first.


1. Quercetin

The flavonoid quercetin is one of the most abundant polyphenols found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, wine, and black tea. It may support healthy aging because it prevents cardiovascular disease risks, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. [1]

Studies show that it may affect hypertension and plasma lipid levels, but the evidence is mixed. Similarly, research on the optimal dose and duration is ongoing. [25] 

This anti-aging supplement has yet to meet InsideTracker scientific standards for inclusion as a recommendation. As an alternative, you can try foods such as onions, broccoli, apples, and blueberries.

» Discover how to reverse aging naturally

2. NAD+, NR, NMN

Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is a molecule involved in many processes in the body, from energy production to DNA repair. As you age, NAD+ levels decline, which correlates with many age-related diseases. [6]

The body doesn't absorb its supplement form well. Farmaceutical professionals rely on its precursors, nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) and nicotinamide riboside (NR). They use it to develop anti-aging pills that increase NAD+ levels. [7] 

Here are some details on these two compounds:

Nicotinamide riboside (NR)

A clinical trial in people with heart failure showed promising results. Supplementing with two grams daily for 12 weeks increased NAD+, increased mitochondrial function, and decreased the expression of proinflammatory molecules. [6,8,9]

Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN)

A 2021 study found that postmenopausal women with prediabetes had improved muscle insulin sensitivity and signaling after ten weeks of taking 250 milligrams a day of NMN. [10] But, more evidence is needed to conclude its effect on insulin. 

The Food and Drug Association (FDA) reclassified NMN as a medication in 2022, precluding its marketing as a dietary anti-aging supplement. But, it’s unclear whether that ruling will alter its commercial availability.

Research on these compounds in relation to measurable health outcomes in humans still needs to be completed. InsideTracker doesn't recommend it. But, you can examine your insulin levels using the Ultimate Plan.



3. Curcumin

Elevated high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) for prolonged periods is an indicator of chronic inflammation. It relates to metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes. [11] 

Curcumin is a potent polyphenol found in turmeric that has anti-inflammatory effects on the body. Supplementing with it in doses of up to one gram daily may lead to reduced oxidative stress and hs-CRP. This effect is especially evident in people with metabolic syndrome. [11,12]

There's sufficient evidence supporting the use of curcumin in supplements to help lower inflammation. But, it may provide different benefits for those with high levels. Depending on your hs-CRP, you may or may not see it as a recommendation.

4. Resveratrol

Polyphenol resveratrol has garnered attention for its supposed potential anti-aging effect. You may find it in foods like grapes, cocoa, peanuts, and blueberries. As of now, no studies have examined its impact on our lifespan.

But, there's proof of its effect on metabolic syndrome. It's a group of conditions that includes hypertension, obesity, high triglyceride levels, and impaired fasting glucose.

Regular supplementation with 1000 milligrams daily can help lower blood glucose levels and hemoglobin A1c. [13] Study results are mixed as to whether it affects plasma lipid levels or HbA1c. [14-18]

Supplements may have anti-aging effects by lowering high blood glucose levels. This recommendation may be in your InsideTracker Ultimate Plan.



5. Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a micronutrient you can find in leafy green vegetables and fermented foods—tofu and miso. Its supplement form may have anti-aging effects on your bones. It may even stop and treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. [18,19]

The compound may also prevent other age-related diseases. Research is ongoing, but its status may be associated with multiple comorbidities, cardiovascular disease, functional decline, and frailty in older adults. [20] 

Consistent low-dose from food may help preserve bone health. You may see it as a recommendation for the InsideTracker’s Healthy aging goal. Doctors don't recommend it for people on blood thinner medications Warfarin and Coumadin.





6. Fisetin

You can find the flavonoid fisetin naturally in strawberries, grapes, apples, persimmons, cucumbers, and onions. It became popular recently due to its presumed anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Emerging cell and animal studies indicate that it may protect cells from oxidative stress and prevent the accumulation of damage. This supplement has potential anti-aging effects in mice. But, it's too soon to know if this extends to humans. [21,22]

InsideTracker currently doesn't recommend fisetin. Instead, consider incorporating fisetin-rich foods in your diet. 

» Check out the physiological changes associated with aging

7. Green tea extract

Brewed green tea may have a slew of health benefits. Catechins, the main polyphenol found in it, act as antioxidants. Take pigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) for example. It may help reduce nerve damage, inflammation, and oxidative stress to support healthy aging. [23,24] 

Consuming two to three cups daily leads to more than a 28% reduced risk of cognitive decline in older adults. And an even greater green intake—five or more—reduces the chance of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. [23,25] 

We find concetrated amounts of catechins in green tea extract supplements. Research shows they may improve low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL). The effect is specifically evident in postmenopausal women with a borderline high body mass index (BMI).

Maintaining LDL levels is important for anti-aging effects. Supplements may benefit females who meet those criteria. But, long-term use of these extracts at high doses may lead to stomach upset and potential liver harm. [26-28]

InsideTracker may suggest green tea as a recommendation. But for people seeking longevity, choose the brewed alternative.

8. Hesperidin 

Hesperidin is a flavonoid primarily presemt in citrus fruits. Studies show it may reduce inflammation by affecting the production of C-reactive protein (CRP)—and decreasing oxidative stress. [29,30] Supplementing with hesperidin for at least three weeks may lower circulating hs-CRP. [31,32]

InsideTracker may suggest it as a recommendation depending on your action plan.

A table with recommendations on anti-aging supplements.


» Learn how to know if your supplements are safe

Can anti-aging pills extend your healthspan?

Longevity research is progressively more interested in “anti-aging pills” to promote longevity. Two of them—metformin and rapamycin—have become popular for their potential roles in delaying aging. But, their approved use by the FDA is to treat other conditions.

We need additional studies in humans to understand whether these drugs safely and specifically target aging-related processes. Consult your physician if you're considering them.

Metformin

Metformin—often the first line of treatment for type 2 diabetes—reduces liver glucose production and promotes insulin secretion and signaling so more blood glucose is taken up by skeletal muscle. Studies suggest metformin may play a role in improving cognition, lowering the occurrence of cardiovascular events, and reducing all-cause mortality. [33-36] 

More research is needed to see if metformin is safe and effective in healthy individuals.

Rapamycin 

Rapamycin is an immunosuppressant prescribed to organ transplant patients to prevent rejection. It inhibits the activity of mTOR—a signaling pathway involved in regulating stress, growth, and metabolism—which may have anti-aging effects.

Preliminary studies indicate one mg daily for healthy older adults. We're yet to determine if taking it results in clinically significant effects on physical, cognitive, and serum markers related to aging. [37,38] 

Anti-aging pills: Myth vs. science

No supplements currently have anti-aging affects. But, some may improve common signs of it when added as a component to other healthy lifestyle changes. The challenge is knowing which ones are right for you.

Having a clear goal and tracking them can help determine what works for you. InsideTracker’s InnerAge 2.0 measures 13 biomarkers related to aging in women and 17 biomarkers for men.

The proprietary A.I. algorithm then accounts for your goals and current habits—such as sleep duration, stress, and heart rate. It helps you identify what actions including have the most impact on your health.

Disclaimer: InsideTracker doesn't diagnose or treat medical conditions. Consult your physician for any health concerns




References

[1] https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article/78/8/615/5697189?login=false

[2] https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article/78/8/615/5697189?login=false

[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19402938/

[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25897620/

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5015358/

[6] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29992272/

[7] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29249689/

[8] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29211728/

[9] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2452302X22002327

[10] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33888596/

[11] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25618800/

[12] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27470399/

[13] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33430470/

[14] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35431994/

[15] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24695890/

[16] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33430470/

[17] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29305228/

[18] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23525984/

[19] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26875489/

[20] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31450694/

[21] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27671819/

[22] https://www.thelancet.com/journals/ebiom/article/PIIS2352-3964(18)30373-6/fulltext

[23] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31544736/

[24] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6567241/

[25] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16968850/

[26] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26093535/

[27] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30400924/ 

[28] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27806972/ 

[29] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/obr.12409

[30] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33808180/

[31] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30991044/

[32] https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/96/5/E782/2834015

[33] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33562458/

[34] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5943638/

[35] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6668189/

[36] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28802803/

[37] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29408453/

[38] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32899412/