As a rule most people interested in health and longevity lavish far too much of their attention on dietary supplements, misled by the loudest voices in the room. No supplement or combination of supplements have been shown to reliably produce even a fraction of the benefits of exercise and calorie restriction, and none of these line items will give you a good chance of living past 90. Three quarters of the most health-obsessed people die before reaching that age, despite the fact that those who exercise and remain thin usually suffer a lower incidence of disease and medical expense in later life. The only shot at a much longer healthy life available to all of us is faster progress in medical technology, an area in which comparatively small donations now can have a large effect in the decades ahead by allowing today's small disruptive initiatives in human longevity to succeed and grow.
Back to supplements, here is a reality check from someone who does spend too much time thinking about supplements and longevity:
Stephen Spindler, biochemistry prof at UC Riverside, has been warning us for years that supplements, herbal extracts and neutraceuticals are, on the whole, ineffective for healthy adults, and that some may actually shorten life expectancy. Spindler's lab has done many life extension studies on mice, almost always with negative results. One of the themes in his papers is that caloric restriction is the only thing that works consistently, and that many of the treatments that seem to offer life extension are subtley inducing caloric restriction, (and this goes unreported by the investigators). But there are so many substances to test, and each lifespan test in mice is so expensive, that Spindler has suggested gene expression profiles as a shortcut to identifying candidates for further testing.
Another approach is to test many substances at once in a mouse life extension cocktail. Another rationale for this kind of testing is that we know that natural fruits and vegetables contribute to a long and healthy life, so perhaps it takes a complex combination of nutrients to be effective. Late last year, Spindler reported on his experiments, feeding commercial "life extension" mixes to hybrid mice. The results are a bracing cold shower for those of us who take a variety of carefully-chosen supplements each day - the mice that ate the supplements and the mice that ate ordinary mouse chow had exactly the same pattern of mortality.