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A Drop in Cellular Methylation Status
Characterizes Normal Aging

Methylation is an extremely important cellular process that is indispensable for life itself. Some of our most essential growth factors rely on a methylation step to become fully functional. By far, the body’s most important methyl donor is a molecule known as S-Adenosyl Methionine, or SAM. Quite expectedly, SAM deficiencies compromise whole body anabolism; that is, growth and development!

Very importantly, our capacity to methylate important cellular targets decreases with age because of steady decline in SAM levels. The accumulative damage resulting from such an age-related decrease in cellular methylation capacity severely compromises our physical and mental health in later years of our lives.

Creatine Supplementation May Improve Cellular Methylation Status

The single largest drain of the body’s SAM reserves is the synthesis of creatine. By inference therefore, circumventing creatine synthesis should positively influence an individual’s methylation status. And, the best way to avoid the synthesis of creatine is to provide the body with enough dietary creatine to meet its daily needs, thereby bypassing creatine synthesis altogether. That is, dietary creatine supplementation alleviates the need to synthesize creatine and hence, boosts an individual’s methylation status. Therefore, creatine supplementation contributes to a more healthful methylation status, which, in turn, lays down the foundation for all other anabolic processes in the body.

Moreover, essential B vitamins, namely folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin B 6, help regenerate SAM after its consumption in cellular methylation reactions. Therefore, to maximize your methylation potential, include these B-vitamins in your creatine supplementing routine as well.

Creatine Supplementation Reduces Serum Homocysteine Levels

Imbalances in SAM metabolism produce a potentially dangerous molecule known as homocysteine. Typically, homocysteine is either cleared from the body, or reconverted into SAM, with the assistance of B-vitamins. However, elevations in serum homocysteine (as a result of excessive cellular methylation, or B-vitamin deficiencies) have been implicated in many of the most insidious human disorders inflicting the elderly. Therefore, creatine supplementation, by the mere fact that it relieves some of the demand on our endogenous SAM reserves, should help mitigate serum homocysteine levels. In fact, this exact prediction has been borne out in a recent scientific study.

Creatine May Help Postpone Mental Senescence

An age-related decline in methylation efficiency is responsible for an increase in serum homocysteine levels as we grow older. This situation is given urgency by the fact that homocysteine has been strongly implicated in the development of several common health disorders inflicting the elderly. For instance, homocysteine has been strongly implicated in the mental decline observed with advanced age as well as with the manifestation of certain psychiatric disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, poor memory and some age-related neuropathologies. Creatine supplementation, via its positive effect on methylation status should thus help retard some of the more deleterious neurological disorders associated with elevated serum homocysteine levels. Perhaps, the relevance of creatine in combating many age-related neurological disorders explains the observed increase in the mean age of the visitors to this site over the last eight years. Creatine supplementation has clear advantages for the mind and body of the elderly! Read a description of how creatine supplementation may help offset the development of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in later life.

Folate, Cancer & Aging

At the root of all life are nucleic acids, the DNA that comprises our genes. Our genes code for every component that the cell will ever express. That is, the selection of which genes are read will ultimately determine a muscle cell from a brain cell, an active cell from a dormant cell, a growing cell from a degenerating cell, or a young cell from an old cell. In brief, our genes decide who, and what, we are at each point in our existence.

Moreover, methylation determines which genes are read and eventually manifested in the cell. Under-methylation (hypo-methylation) switches the pattern of gene expression to one more commonly associated with cancer. For instance, hypo-methylation of the tumor suppressor gene, p53, leads to a two-fold increase in the incidence of bronchial cancer in male smokers; cigarette smoke severely compromises methylation by degrading cellular folate reserves. Folate deficiency predisposes us to cancer and has been associated with the expression of carcinomas of the colon-rectum, lungs, cervix, esophagus pancreas and breast.

DNA methylation also influences chromosome structure, the cell’s ability to repair damaged DNA as well as overall genomic stability. Expectedly, hypo-methylation also results in inefficient replication of DNA, breaks in the chromosomal linear structure and inefficient repair of damaged chromosomes. Folate-based methylation thus protects our genes from spontaneous mutations and chromosome damage that could lead to cancer and cell death.

An age-related decline in methylation capacity is thought to instigate senescence and the loss of physical capacity in the elderly. Folate-deficiency, producing a premature state of hypo-methylyation, may accelerate the normal aging process.

Folate supplementation will thus slow the progressive loss in mental and physical capacities associated with aging as well as protect against many age-related diseases, such as cancer.

Precautions of Creatine Supplementation for the Elderly

Consuming exorbitant amounts of creatine monohydrate powder is likely to place an unwarranted stress upon your kidneys – the body’s filtering apparatus. Therefore, due to the propensity for renal dysfunction in the elderly, anyone over 70 should seriously consider bypassing the loading phase of supplementation altogether.

Fortunately, certain B vitamins are known to facilitate the body’s own creatine synthetic pathway, alleviating the need for supplementation at high levels. Moreover, combining creatine supplementation with targeted B-vitamin intake will strengthen its positive influence over serum homocysteine levels, which, in turn, will improve mental and physical ability in later life.