Vitamin D is the antiaging supplement of choice for scientists and longevity investors
- Vitamin D is an essential nutrient our bodies use to help us absorb calcium.
- As people age, it gets more difficult for them to use the vitamin D they get from food and the sun.
There's no standard protocol for antiaging, no single treatment that doctors and scientists all agree can turn back our biological clocks — at least not yet.
Some biohackers have tried pricey young-plasma injections that cost thousands of dollars, while other research scientists say the benefits of consistent, regular exercise and a healthy diet are unparalleled.
But if there's one antiaging capsule almost everyone who's investing in longevity, studying aging, or personally dealing with aging can agree on, vitamin D might be it.
The immune expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, the antiaging researcher João Pedro de Magalhães, and the billionaire longevity investor Christian Angermayer have all told Insider they take vitamin D supplements in various dosages and at different times of the year.
Angermayer said it was "one of the really proven" things people could do for antiaging, in part because of the beneficial effects vitamin D can have on the immune system and on cancer risk.
Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption — which reduces inflammation
Vitamin D helps our gut absorb calcium from food, keeping our bones healthy and strong. When we don't absorb enough calcium from our diet, our body digs into the calcium stored in our bones to meet its needs.
Studies have consistently indicated that older adults who take vitamin D supplements (ranging from 400 to 800 international units a day) significantly reduce their risk of broken bones; that's an especially important outcome for older people, who face an increased risk of death after injuries such as hip fractures.
Vitamin D is also known to help prevent muscle cramps and spasms, reduce inflammation, and improve immune function.
How much vitamin D should you take? It depends
Kids and adults up to age 69 technically all have the same recommended daily vitamin D allowance in the US (600 IU).
Dr. John Bilezikian, an endocrinologist at Columbia University Medical Center, said for most people, about 15 to 20 minutes of sun exposure in the summer months should be enough.
Fatty fish such as salmon or tuna, as well as (to a lesser extent) beef, fortified milk, and egg yolks, can also help replenish your vitamin D stores. If you already have plenty of it in your diet, you may not need a supplement at all.
But there are some groups of people who should consider taking year-round vitamin D supplements, including:
older adults (who can't absorb vitamin D as well as others)
people who aren't regularly in the sun, or eating enough vitamin-D-rich foods
people with darker skin (which can make it harder to absorb vitamin D from the sun)
Experts recommend that once people hit 70 years old, they should ramp up their vitamin D intake to 800 IU daily. Three ounces of sockeye salmon (570 IU) plus a cup of fortified milk (~100 to 150 IU) would get you most of the way there.
But don't overdo your vitamin D intake — too much can lead to dangerous calcium buildup in the kidneys, heart, blood, and lungs. The safe upper limit is 4,000 IU a day, according to The National Institutes of Health.
How much vitamin D are the experts taking?
The biohacker Bryan Johnson (the tech entrepreneur who injected his own son's blood), age 46, takes 2,000 IU of D3 each morning, his website says. Angermayer, the 45-year-old billionaire investor, takes about 4,000 IU every three days. Fauci, 82, didn't specify to Insider exactly how much vitamin D he took, but he said his levels, which were "low" before he started supplements, had become "normal."
De Magalhães doesn't worry too much about his vitamin D intake in the summer, but during the winter he adds vitamin D supplements to his straightforward, "moderately healthy" antiaging regimen — alongside regular exercise, no smoking, and very little alcohol or junk food.
"I don't do gene therapies in my garage or anything," de Magalhães told Insider. "You have to find that balance between enjoying life and living healthy that will allow you statistically — in all likelihood — to live longer."
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