A theory of aging developed by Dr. Bruce N. Ames of U.C. Berkeley in 2006 explains why many people who eat an unhealthy diet and eschew (rather than chew) supplements appear to be in good health. The micronutrient triage theory of aging is based on the same process that a busy hospital emergency room uses to determine who gets treated first. When resources are inadequate to meet all needs, priority is given to the most urgent.
Aging is a result of DNA damage and a decline in mitochondrial energy production. DNA damage occurs continually but given enough of the right nutrients, particularly antioxidants, it is quickly repaired. DNA damage left unrepaired accelerates the aging process.
Dr. Ames’ theory explains why many vitamin and mineral deficiencies cause long-term DNA damage with no noticeable short-term effects. He observed that many people with suboptimal nutrient intake seem to get by fine with no signs or symptoms of poor health for years only to be suddenly hit with serious health problems down the road. According to the Triage Theory of Aging this is explained by the body allocating limited nutrients to critical short-term functions at the expense of long-term health (an analogy might be paying your power bill instead of fixing a leaking roof if you couldn’t afford to do both – you’ll be comfortable today but eventually your house will collapse). One nutrient example is the vitamin K family where it takes a severe deficiency of K1 to interfere with the clotting process but only a slight deficiency of K2 to increase the risk of osteoporosis and atherosclerosis, two common degenerative diseases of aging.
This theory exposes the short-sightedness of conservative RDAs (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for essential nutrients. They are set at the smallest amount to prevent acute deficiency symptoms but often far short of the optimum for preventing the many degenerative diseases of aging.
Source: Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox by Kate Rheaume-Bleue, Bsc. ND, John Wiley & Sons, 2012. See also Ames original 2006 article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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