Carbon-60, Buckyball. Is it good for you?

March 03, 2024

Carbon 60 Buckyballs, Are They Good for You?

When you see the following statement, "Carbon 60 is the most powerful antioxidant currently known – over 270 times stronger than vitamin C!", you might think this is something to explore. Is there any validity to the breathless claims that rats treated with it lived twice as long as untreated rats? Or, if treated with radiation showed virtually no toxicity. Where is all this coming from? Is it worth taking a look?

Carbon 60 is a fullerene, the discovery of which garnered a Nobel Prize in 1996 for Harry Kroto. Imagine a soccer ball of carbon atoms (60 to be exact) in which they are constructed to make 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons. The hexagons all have 3 double bonds in them, separated from each other by the pentagons. This is a very elegant structure.  

Those double bonds cover the whole surface of the "soccer ball" or fullerene molecule. What do they do? Well, double bonds have a curious affinity to suck up peroxide and the hydroxyl ion. Those two "Reactive Oxygen Species" are the end products of the oxidative stress cascade that happens everywhere in your body when you are exposed to "oxidative stress". By that I mean anything that overwhelms and taxes the mitochondria, leading it to lose its grip on electrons. When you overeat sugar and saturated fat (aka, ice cream, hamburger with bacon and cheese, giant steak, etc etc) your mitochondria are overwhelmed and the normal leakage of 1-2% of electrons turns into a flood. COVID with its unique toxins creates oxidative stress too. As does smoking, air pollution, microplastics, environmental toxins...the whole gamut of bad things. An escaped electron will damage cells without discrimination. To dampen that damage, we have several enzymes to capture that electron and get it out of the cell into the blood in the form of peroxide. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase are the two loose electron police. Catalase gets induced and you can measure higher catalase levels in folks with Long COVID, Autism, or other brain diseases.

Glutathione is your next line of defense. It gets diminished, battling the flood of electrons. If peroxide overwhelms glutathione, it then converts into the Darth Vader of Reactive Oxygen species and makes the -OH ion, the hydroxyl ion. Both peroxide and -OH will attack membranes and damage them. This is where plasmalogens come in. They have a double bond on the surface of the cell that captures peroxide or -OH and neutralizes it. But you lose the plasmalogen molecule.

With the depletion of plasmalogens, you set off all sorts of other problems. That depletion is actually the engine driving Alzheimer's, coronary artery disease, cancer, and just about all diseases of aging. This column has covered those connections in great detail.

So, this is no ideal question. Could an exogenous form of plasmalogens be a helpful supplement? That's what C-60 is. It is the only molecule that provides a potent source of double bonds that will suck up reactive oxygen species. Double bonds are so fragile, and actually so rare that we have only a tiny supply of them. We can only make a minuscule quantity of them in our peroxisomes. Could we really take them as a supplement and augment our meager supply? Wow? This would become a backup plan for supporting membranes and soaking up reactive oxygen species.

The problem is, they aren't a natural molecule and they don't fit back into the matrix of our cells. We need plasmalogens for many other reasons. Their fluidity and ability to shape-shift give cellular membranes the basis for their function as they allow proteins to also shape-shift, facilitating activation and deactivation.

There is a company, C360 Health, now hawking C-60 as an antioxidant, claiming the sun, moon, and stars in benefits. They have some impressive graphs showing a reduction in inflammatory cytokines. All those cytokines are set off by the cascades of reactive oxygen species made when peroxide and -OH damage those double bonds. 

www.What will Work for me. I love ideas from right field that come out of "nowhere" when you weren't expecting it. There appears to be little toxicity to this C60 fullerene, to date. I'm not ready to endorse it quite yet, but I understand the chemistry and it fits into the concept of Membrane Biology as defined by plasmalogen lipids that drive functionality of mammalian membranes. That functionality will reshape medicine and require a rewrite of all of our textbooks. Medicine is going to be radically reshaped as the plasmalogen revolution rolls over our understanding of modern diseases of aging. This cute, little, Nobel Prize Winning Soccer Ball may have a role in there somewhere. It is the only double bond that survives gut digestion. If it is safe, that may be important. To date, we don't have much human safety data. For now, that's a safety warning. Stay tuned. This is interesting.

References: Neurobiology Aging, Wikipedia Kroto, Biomaterials, ResearchGate, C360Health,

Pop Quiz

1. What is C-60?                       Answer: It is a fullerene, a ball-shaped molecule, like a soccer ball of carbon rings filled with double bonds. Nobel prize in 1996 for its discovery.

2. What happens when you give it to rats?                  Answer: They live much longer. (This is a mistake. We need something to get rats to live shorter)

3. How does it have its biological effect?                   Answer: Dramatic reduction in inflammatory cytokines.

4. How does that reduction in inflammatory cytokines come about?                      Answer: Those double bonds snarf up the reactive oxygen species that set off all the inflammatory cascades.

5. Is it safe to take?                       Answer: Time will tell for sure.