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Nutrients 2011, 3(3), 274-282; doi:10.3390/nu3030274

Aging and Longevity: Why Knowing the Difference Is Important to Nutrition Research

*  and
Department of Nutrition, University of California, One Shields Ave, Davis, CA 95616, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 16 January 2011 / Revised: 7 February 2011 / Accepted: 25 February 2011 / Published: 28 February 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrition and Aging)
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Life expectancies after the age of 70 and the number of individuals living with age-related chronic conditions that affect daily activities continue to increase. Age-specific nutritional recommendations may help to decrease the incidence or severity of age-related debilitating chronic disorders. However, research in this area has seen limited success in identifying nutrition-related mechanisms that underlie the functional loss and chronic conditions that occur as a function of time. We believe that the limited success in establishing age-specific nutrition recommendations for the older population reflects, at least in part, research designs that fail to consider the evolutionary and biological bases of aging and longevity. Longevity has evolved as a by-product of genes selected for their contribution in helping the organism survive to the age of reproduction. As such, the principle of genetic determinism provides an appropriate underlying theory for research designs evaluating nutritional factors involved with life span. Aging is not a product of evolution and reflects stochastic and/or random events that most likely begin during the early, reproductively-active years. The genetic determinism model by which young (normal, control) are compared to old (abnormal, experimental) groups will not be effective in identifying underlying mechanisms and nutritional factors that impact aging. The purpose of this commentary is to briefly discuss the difference between aging and longevity and why knowing the difference is important to nutrition research and to establishing the most precise nutritional recommendations possible for the older population.
Keywords: chance and aging; evolution of longevity; genetic determinism; nutrition recommendations chance and aging; evolution of longevity; genetic determinism; nutrition recommendations
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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McDonald, R.B.; Ruhe, R.C. Aging and Longevity: Why Knowing the Difference Is Important to Nutrition Research. Nutrients 2011, 3, 274-282.

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