Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) – Part III:
The Antioxidant Protective Properties and Effects of AGE Helping To Age Successfully
Michael Garko, Ph.D.
Host – Let’s Talk Nutrition
A low risk of disease and disease-related disability, high mental and physical function and active engagement in life are three ideal conditions most people would like to experience as they age. These three conditions constitute what Rowe and Kahn (1997) describe as successful aging. In addition, living a long life is another feature of aging successfully.
Aging successfully in the way just described may seem unrealistic and unattainable to some. Not a few people doubt that it is possible to live a long life, while being relatively disease-free, possessing good cognitive and physical function and remaining active and engaged.
However, there is more than enough sufficient scientific support to show that while it is inevitable, aging is alterable and that while it is limiting, aging is not necessarily debilitating. Hence, successful aging is an achievable health goal.
How can successful aging be accomplished? There are a variety of biological, physiological, psychosocial, cultural, lifestyle and nutritional factors which influence the process of aging and bear upon whether or not a person will age successfully. Nutritionally speaking, there are certain nutrients derived from food and constituting nutritional supplements which can make an important contribution in the effort to age successfully. One of these of these foods is garlic, which has been aged, and then used to make the dietary supplement, Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) sold by the brand name Kyolic.
The April, 2010, issue of Healthful Hints focuses on AGE and the ways in which it can help people to age successfully as they move through the lifespan.
Compression of Morbidity Hypothesis
Most people (myself included) would not prefer to live a long time and be sick and disabled for a long period of time as they move further into the later stages of the lifespan. An important concept in the successful aging model is the compression of morbidity (i.e., condition of being afflicted with disability or infirmity from disease) (see Fries, 1990).
Basically, part of aging successfully entails compressing or shortening the period of long-term disability by preventing or eliminating disease. In other words, to minimize the number of years spent suffering while maximizing the total number of years lived.
Free Radical Theory of Aging
According to Denham Harman’s theory of aging, oxidative damage done to cells by free-radicals is one of the primary mechanisms of the diseases of aging. Oxidative free-radical stress contributes to an acceleration of the aging process, destruction of the body’s cells, tissues, organs and systems and formation of a variety of diseases, including coronary heart disease and cancer (see Harman, 1956).
Free radicals are molecules which have lost an electron, making them highly unstable. In losing an electron, the molecule now has an unpaired electron and does not contribute to molecular bonding and balance and is otherwise free to raise molecular hell within the cells. In order to restore molecular balance, free radicals will either steal an electron from another molecule or donate its remaining electron to a nearby molecule.
This process creates molecular mayhem within the body damaging/oxidizing the function and structure of cells, nucleic acids (i.e., RNA &DNA), proteins and lipids. Over time the oxidative damage accumulates and eventually renders the body incapable of fending off further damage and repairing itself.
Antioxidants are molecules capable of slowing or preventing the oxidation of other molecules. They are sometimes referred to as free radical scavengers and have the ability to neutralize free radicals by donating one of their electrons. Antioxidant-related and -enhancing compounds include a number of different vitamins, minerals, enzymes and certain phytonutrient-derived chemicals.
Antioxidant Protective Properties of Kyolic AGE
As it turns out, the medicinal-chemical properties of AGE can help to compress morbidity, slow the aging process and stimulate the rejuvenating and self-healing processes of the body or otherwise age successfully by preventing and modulating the oxidation of the body’s cells caused by the proliferation of free-radicals. It is the dense concentration of antioxidants in AGE which gives it the ability to help people age successfully in the ways that have been described above (see Borek, 2001).
Antioxidant Phytochemicals Contained In AGE
The anti-oxidant phytochemicals of Kyolic AGE include:
• Water-soluble allyl amino acid derivatives, accounting for most of AGE’s organosulfur compounds (organic compounds containing carbon and sulfur)
• Stable lipid-soluble allyl sulfides/organosulfur compounds
• Flavanoids such as allixin and selenium
• Essential macro- and micro-nutrients (see Kyolic, 2010)
It is worth noting that the unstable, volatile lipid-soluble organosulfur compound allicin is not contained in AGE.
The primary anti-oxidant organosulfur compounds in AGE are Sallylcysteine (SAC) and S-Allylmercaptocysteine (SAMC). High levels of SAC and SAMC found in Kyolic AGE – produced during the aging process SAC and SAMC give Kyolic AGE higher anti-oxidant concentrations and activity compared to fresh garlic and other commercial garlic supplements sold around the world. Experimental studies using animal models show that SAC is easily absorbed from gastrointestinal tract and delivered to plasma, liver and other organs at a bioavailability rate of 98% (see Kyolic, 2010).
Also contributing to the anti-oxidant profile and effectiveness of Kyloic AGE are the lipid-soluble compounds such as diallyl sulfide (DAS), triallyl sulfide, diallyl disulfide (DADS), diallyl polysulfides, among others. In addition, AGE contains phenolic compounds such as allixin, N-fructosyl glutamate, N-fructosyl arginine and selenium, among other organosulfur compounds, which possess anti-oxidant properties (see Kyolic, 2010).
Scientifically Established Health-Related Benefits of Kyolic Age
Over 650 peer-reviewed, scientific studies on Kyolic AGE have established its health benefits. Specifically, the body of research on Kyolic Age has demonstrated its antioxidant protective effects and potential to protect and potentiate the various systems of the body, all of which contributes to aging successfully.
Antioxidant-rich Kyolic AGE has been shown scientifically to have:
• Cardioprotective benefits
• Liver-protective/detoxification benefits
• Immune enhancement and anti-infection benefits
• Antioxidant and radioprotective benefits
• Anti-stress and anti-fatigue benefits
• Brain/cognitive and neurotrophic effects and anti-depressive benefits (see Wakunaga of America, 2008)
The medicinal properties of Kyolic AGE can assist in aging successfully by helping to prevent and modulate cellular oxidation and degeneration caused by free-radicals, and, thereby, slow the aging process, compress morbidity and stimulate the rejuvenating and self-healing processes of the body.
Given the importance of antioxidants in neutralizing free radicals, moderating their damaging effects and, thereby, contributing to arresting the aging process, one of the overarching health, successful aging benefits of Kyolic AGE is its high concentration of certain antioxidant-protective water-soluble and lipid-soluble organosulfur compounds (e.g. SAC, SAMC, DAS, DADS, N-fructosyl glutamate, N-fructosyl arginine, selenium, etc.).
It is not being claimed that Kyolic AGE can single handedly stop the aging process. Rather, it is being asserted that taking Kyolic AGE is an important nutritional tactic in the overall strategy to achieve successful aging.
Borek, C. (2001). Antioxidant health effects of aged garlic extract. Journal of Nutrition, 131, 1010S-1015S.
Fries, J.F. (1990). Medical perspectives upon successful aging. In P.B. Baltes & M.M. Baltes (Eds.), Successful aging: Perspectives from the behavioral sciences (pp. 35-39). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Garko, M. (2010). Aged garlic extract (AGE) – Part II: Human aging and successful aging. Healthful Hints, March, http://www.letstalknutrition.com
Harman, D (1956). Aging: A theory based on free radical and radiation chemistry. Journal of Gerontology, 11 (3): 298-300.
Kyolic (n.d.). The chemistry of garlic – key compounds in garlic. Retrieved on January 25, 2010 from http://www.kyolic.com/research/truth-about-garlic/chemistry-of-garlic-key-compounds-in-garlic/
Rowe, J., & Kahn, R. (1997). Successful aging. New York: Pantheon Books.
Wakunaga of America Co., Ltd. (2008). Aged garlic extract: Research excerpts from peer reviewed scientific journals & scientific meetings.
1 Successful aging, along with Rowe Kahn’s (1997) concept of successful aging were discussed in the March, 2010, edition of Healthful Hints (see Garko, 2010).
2 Throughout this newsletter Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) will be used to mean Wakunaga of America’s Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract, trademarked dietary supplement product.