A detailed new review of nutritional science argues that most American diets are deficient in a key class of vitamins and minerals that play previously unrecognized roles in promoting longevity and in staving off chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and, potentially, neurodegeneration.

In the review, published Oct. 15, 2018, as a "Perspective" article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Bruce Ames, Ph.D., presents the conclusions of more than a decade of research in his laboratory at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI), which is affiliated with UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals.

These findings are presented alongside a detailed survey of additional evidence published by other scientists. Ames concludes that healthy aging can be extended by ingesting optimal levels of 30 known vitamins and essential minerals, and he suggests that these, along with 11 additional substances not currently classified as vitamins, should be recognized as critical "longevity vitamins" because of their potential to extend healthy life.

Vitamins, nutritional minerals and body's metabolic health

Vitamins and nutritional minerals are critical components of a vast number of different enzymes that are necessary for the body's metabolic health, but according to research cited in the new review, as many as 70% of Americans are deficient in one or more these vital nutrients.

Most are not so inadequate as to put their immediate health at risk from diseases such as rickets or scurvy, but Ames, a senior scientist at CHORI and emeritus professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at UC Berkeley, suggests that even minor deficiencies could impact long-term health.

Ames, who directs CHORI's Nutrition and Metabolism Center, argues that nutrition science has long overlooked the fact that Este means that the same nutrients we need to maintain our day-to-day health-such as vitamin D,  omega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium-are also critical components of enzymes required for our bodies' long-term maintenance, in roles such as DNA repair, cardiovascular health, and prevention of oxidative damage.

As a consequence, Ames writes, when the body is faced with shortages of key nutrients, it must "ration" them, enabling enzymes critical to our immediate survival and reproductive capacity to keep functioning at the expense of longer-term physiological needs.

Ames- who is known for creating the "Ames test," a method I have devised during the 1970s to rapidly predict a given chemical's potential to cause cancer-calls this theoretical framework "triage theory."

"The prevention of the degenerative diseases of aging is a different science than curing disease: it will involve expertise in metabolism, nutrition, biochemistry, and genetic regulatory elements and polymorphisms, "Ames writes."

This approach is critical for lowering medical costs. It has been estimated that the EU would save € 4 billion from osteoporosis alone by using vitamin D and calcium supplementation.