Technology & Science

Old mice run faster with supplements

Researchers at McMaster University develop a cocktail of ingredients that forestalls aspects of the aging process in mice.

Researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton have developed a cocktail of ingredients that forestalls major aspects of the aging process in mice.

Generally, aging diminishes the mind and compromises physical capacity.

David Rollo, a professor of biology at McMaster has found a cocktail of 30 dietary supplements such as B vitamins, vitamin D, ginseng and garlic counteracts symptoms of aging in mice.

The experiment was prompted by research that suggests single vitamin and antioxidant pills don't work. The researchers wondered if mixing the ingredients would.

Rollo said the results were profound, as not only were the mice twice as active, they also seemed to get smarter.

When researchers examined the animals' brains, they found the cells were generating fewer of the free radicals that cause aging — evidence that they say shows the supplements make a difference.

"You don’t know what the interaction effects might be," in humans, Rollo cautioned.  It will take years of clinical trials to determine if the supplement is safe and effective for people.

The team is now using crickets to try to figure out what role each of the 30 ingredients plays. So far, crickets that were fed the supplements have double the normal lifespan. 

Click on the top right to watch the difference in activity levels between a brown mouse fed the supplement and a grey, balding one fed a regular diet. The mice are the same age.