Indoor job? Northern hemisphere? Supplement with vitamin D.
In the wild wild west of supplements, the land of deer antler spray, lamb placenta and noni juice (yes, really) where we’re bombarded with claims and testimonials and celebrity endorsements, it’s a challenge to figure what is good (or at least promising) for those of us who want to tip the balance toward health and vitality as we age.
It’s a great day when real science supplants hucksterism, and we can learn something credible and useful about an anti-aging supplement, Such is the most recent news about Omega-3s. This is a supplement I take, my decision based on persuasive research that Omega 3s (an essential fatty acid found in cold water fish like salmon) are powerful anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is implicated in a host of chronic diseases that fast-forward the aging process.
Now there’s more evidence about the health and anti-aging benefits of omega-3s – this time about the link between this supplement and longer telomeres.
What are telomeres and why do we care if they’re long or short? Glad you asked. Telomeres are the end-caps on our chromosomes that protect them from wear and tear (and death). Long telomeres signal biological youth. Shortened telomeres, not so much. Or, in science speak: “It is becoming increasingly evident that damage specific to the telomeric ends of chromosomes is one of the most critical events that initiate genome instability leading to accelerated ageing, cognitive decline and neurodegenerative disease.” Got that? As I said: Long telomeres, good. Short telomeres, bad. (I had mine tested during my counterclockwise journey and wrote about it in the book.)
A new study from Australian researchers – a randomized clinical trail (the gold standard), albeit a small, pilot study — found that omega-3 supplementation was associated with “reduced shortening” of telomeres. This echoes UC/ SF research that found links between omega-3s and slower cellular ageing in people with coronary disease as well as another study that linked omega-3s to improved cognitive ability. If you’re not taking this supplement, you should consider it.
Almost as interesting as the good news about omega-3s is the mirror-image bad news that emerged from the recent Australian study. The people who exhibited the greatest shortening of telomere length (remember, short=bad) were those with the highest intake of omega-6s. While omega-3s are hard to get in our modern diet, omega-6s are way too easy. Snack foods, fast foods, cookies, crackers and sweets often contain refined vegetable oils, a major source of omega-6s. More proof – if we needed any more proof – that the American junk food diet is aging us from the inside out.
(Thanks to Dr. Andrew Elliot, the guy behind my telomere testing, for alerting me to this study.)test Filed under Posts | Comments (2)