The future could be a paradise of technological wonders, but you'll (probably) need to keep yourself alive for decades in order to enjoy all it has to offer. Ray Kurzweil, inventor, author, and futurist, predicts that The Singularity is coming in 2045 and he plans on living long enough to see it. No mean feat considering he'll be 97 at the time. In order to survive to know whether his predictions come true, Kurzweil takes 150 pills a day, some 70 to 80 different substances that "radically reprogram [his] body's biochemistry." In a recent interview on BigThink, Kurzweil explained what he thought were the three most important supplements on that list. Check out the brief video below. Spoiler alert: the substances are coenzyme Q10, phosphatidylcholine, and vitamin D.
Health supplements are tricky. While many have interesting and reputable scientific studies that suggest they can help us live longer and healthier lives, it can take years and millions of dollars to verify such results to a point where there is consensus in the medical community about their benefits. Coenzyme Q10, a powerful antioxidant, and Phosphatidylcholine, a substance in cell membranes we tend to lose as we age, are certainly valuable to the body and play key roles in cell chemistry. Like so many other health supplements these substances can be found in many foods or produced in the body as a result of a healthy diet. However, as Kurzweil explains in Transcend, his book on the subject, many of us may not be getting the necessary amounts to actually improve our health. Kurzweil will sell you these supplements, by the way, in case you agree with his assessment.
The debate about dietary intake and supplementation is ongoing and can get quite contentions. This is clear in the case of vitamin D. In the past decade it's become one of the most lauded health supplements out there, linked to reduce instances of cancer and heart disease, as well as many other benefits. Some nutritionists estimate that more than a billion of us aren't getting enough vitamin D. Others contend that those nutritionists are setting their estimates of the amount of vitamin D the body needs much too high. The US government is going to spend millions of dollars and years of research trying to end the debate once and for all with their VITAL study. It will probably take just as much work, if not more, to come to finalized conclusions for all 70 to 80 substances that Kurzweil takes.
What should you do in the meantime? I'm not quite sure myself. There are some years when I'm adamant about daily vitamin regimens, and then I go whole months without taking anything at all. It's hard to decide on which supplements to take when most are supposed to work by giving you negative findings (no cancer, no heart attacks, etc) and only after taking the pills for decades! I find it much easier to stick to healthy living patterns (eat better, exercise more, stress less) than to worry about health supplements. But you know, I'd only be 64 when 2045 rolls around, so my chances of making it that far are pretty good already. For those of you with more at stake - supplement as you see fit. If they don't work, most of these pills won't hurt you anywhere but your wallet. If they do work...well hopefully we'll all be around to see what the future holds. The Singularity or just better music, either way I'm game.
[screen capture and video credits: BigThink]