How a Full House of Heart Nutrients Can Help Us . . .
Live To Be 100 Years

At the beginning of the last century, those born into the world were predicted to live not more than 50 years on average. Yet 100 years later, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, we have now reached an era in which life expectancy is approaching 100 years, especially for those who are current with (and acting on) the latest health information.1

Life expectancy has shot up substantially since 1950, and nongenetic reasons are the explanation for increases in human lifespans to date.2 We believe that dietary supplements are responsible. So it is gratifying that genetic studies involving centenarians (people who live to be 100 years old or more) are providing an explanation for those of us who are not expected to live so long, showing us how we might be able to live for 100 years or longer.

A new study, just presented at the American Geriatrics Society, found that centenarians retain a naturally heart-healthy cholesterol level throughout their lives.3 Does this mean that if you manage to keep your cholesterol levels down, living to 100 years might be possible? In this study, Dr. Nir Barzilai of the Albert Einstein College Of Medicine, Bronx, New York, examined 27 male and female centenarians and their elderly children.4 He found these subjects to have gene mutations, which result in high HDL ("good") cholesterol for men and women and low LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels for men only. Their levels were independent of their lifestyle that included eating high-fat foods, exercising too little, and smoking tobacco.

High HDL was protective for both men and women: all centenarians independent of sex had high levels of HDL. By comparison, low LDL cholesterol didn't seem as critical for women. To live beyond 100 years, it was necessary for men to have both high HDL and low LDL cholesterol, but women only needed to have high HDL. The fact that women live longer than men, and are more apt to live past 100, may be due to this lop-sided requirement. Dr. Barzilai also found that whatever the cholesterol levels of the parents were, the children's were better, with higher HDL levels for the girls, and both high HDL and low LDL levels for the boys. Given that high LDL and low HDL are risk factors for heart disease, the researchers concluded that the explanation for their longevity was genetic protection.

DNA is not the whole story. Good genes are not the only way to obtain and maintain healthy cholesterol levels. There is ample evidence that the road to the future is not reserved just for the genetically anointed few. For the rest of us, if we get the full house of nutrients available for optimizing heart health by taking them, then we too will have a chance to become centenarians.

In this issue of Life Enhancement you can learn how nutritional supplements may be able to help you live into the next century.


  1. Vaupel JW, Carey JR, Christensen K, Johnson TE, Yashin AI, Holm NV, Iachine IA, Kannisto V, Khazaeli AA, Liedo P, Longo VD, Zeng Y, Manton KG, Curtsinger JW. Biodemographic trajectories of longevity. Science 1998 May 8;280(5365):855-60.
  2. Poon WL, Johnson MA, Martin P. Looking into the crystal ball: Will we ever be able to accurately predict individual differences in longevity? In: Robine JM, Vaupel JW, Jeune B, Allard M, editors. Longevity: To the limits and beyond. Berlin: Springer,1997. p 113-9.
  3. Barzilai N. J Amer Geriat Soc 2001;49(1). In press.
  4. Norton A. Good cholesterol may explain why some live to 100. Reuters Health. Jan 12, 2001;

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