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Although it’s not exactly known what causes common side effects of age, a significant amount of research suggests that a build up of free radical cell damage contribute to the decline of function that many people experience as they get older. Based on this evidence, scientists have been working for years to develop supplements that can slow or reverse the effects of aging.

The good news is that some of that work appears to be producing results. Researchers have tested a number of compounds that claim to have anti-aging properties and have found that fatigue and muscle weakness can be improved with some formulas. However, research also suggests that there might be a limited window of opportunity to take advantage of the benefits of these supplements.

Scientists at the University of Florida tested anti-aging supplements on rats in two different age groups. Some of the animals were middle-aged 21-month-old rats, which correspond with a human between the ages of 50 and 65; others were late-middle-aged 29-month-old rats, which is the equivalent in age to a 65- to 80-year-old person. The rats were given anti-aging supplements for six weeks and then had their paw strength tested. According to the researchers, the middle-aged rats showed improvement, while the oldest rats displayed no changes.

What does this mean for people?

The findings of these tests may indicate that anti-aging measures should be taken sooner rather than later. A person who is not yet 65 may see the biggest benefits from changing their diet and taking anti-aging supplements designed to target free radical damage.