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Omega-3s help preserve telomere length

Telomeres are the protective caps at the end of every strand of DNA in the body, acting like the tip of a shoelace that keeps it from unraveling. As new cells form using DNA instructions, telomeres shorten, eventually exposing the DNA strand to damage. Earlier studies have linked telomere length to biological age; the longer the telomere the younger the biological age.

In this study, 106 sedentary, overweight but healthy middle-aged and older adults took 2,500 mg or 1,250 mg of omega-3s per day, or a placebo of typical American dietary fats high in omega-6. After four months, researchers found that as the level of omega-3s rose compared to omega-6s, telomere length also increased. Both omega-3 groups also saw 15 percent lower levels of oxidative stress.

Explaining their findings, doctors said that omega-6s are abundant, coming from common vegetable oils using in many processed foods, but omega-3s are rarer, coming mostly from fish. The ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s should be no higher than four-to-one to provide the greatest health benefit, doctors said.

 

More vitamin D, longer life

More disease studies have focused on people of European descent, doctors said. In this study, researchers measured vitamin D levels in 2,638 Caucasians and African-Americans aged 71 to 80. African-Americans had lower vitamin D levels than Caucasians. After 8.5 years of follow-up, those with very low levels of vitaminD–less than 20 nano grams per milliliter of blood–were¬†50 percent more likely to have died from any cause, compared to those with higher levels.

Doctors said the good news is it’s easy to raise vitamin D levels through diet and supplements.

 

Reference: Brain, Behavior, and Immunity; September, 2012, Electronic Prepublication

From the January 2012 newsletter

 

Van's Health on February - 22 - 2013
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