Vitamin D Found to Lengthen Telomeres (So Could it Extend Your Life?)

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One of the biggest breakthroughs in recent history is a Nobel Prize winning discovery that changes everything we know about aging.

Award winning scientist Elizabeth Blackburn and her colleagues found that we have tiny caps at the ends of our chromosomes that protect our DNA. These caps are called “telomeres” and they act as something of a genetic clock when it comes to the aging process.

What are Telomeres and Why Should You Care?

Every time a cell divides, a little bit of the telomere is lost. When the telomere becomes too short, the cell dies or starts to malfunction. Ultimately, the shorter a person’s telomeres are, the more quickly cellular aging occurs.

However, not everyone’s telomeres shorten at the same rate.

Those who maintain longer telomeres as they age tend to appear younger than their chronological age. They seldom get sick and often have energy to burn.

Conversely, people whose telomeres shorten more quickly look and feel much older than their years. Aging is accelerated, and they’re more likely to experience chronic health problems like heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and other age-related diseases. They’re also more likely to have a shorter lifespan.

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Studies Show Vitamin D Slows Down Cellular Aging

A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition has some exciting news.

Scientists measured telomere length in a group of adults. Then, they measured the participants’ vitamin D (25-OH D) levels. Concentrations of 50 nmol/L or greater were considered optimal.

They found that middle-aged adults who had optimal 25-OH D levels had longer telomeres than those with less than optimal levels.

This is supported by previous research that shows people who have the highest vitamin D levels have a biological age about 5 years younger than people with the lowest levels.

And here’s even greater news…

Optimize Vitamin D Levels for a More Youthful You

Even if your telomeres are unstable, supplementing with vitamin D can help. It increases activity of telomerase, an enzyme that’s essential in maintaining telomere length. This enzyme also preserves healthy cell and immune function.

It only takes 50 mcg (2,000 IU) of vitamin D3 daily to increase telomerase activity by an amazing 19.2%.

You can find out if your levels are low by asking your doctor for a 25-OH D blood test. If you’re deficient, it’s a good idea to supplement with 50 to 125 mcg (2,000 to 5,000 IU) of D3 daily.

You can also get plenty of vitamin D3 when you expose your skin to sunlight, without sunscreen. For most people, just 10 to 20 minutes of sun on the arms and legs a few times a week can generate all of the vitamin D they need.

Think your vitamin D level is probably fine? Click here to learn 9 Reasons You Really Do Need More Vitamin D.

Sources:

Yeh JK, et al. Telomeres and Telomerase in Cardiovascular Diseases. Genes (Basel). 2016 Sep; 7(9): 58.

Zhao J, et al. Association between telomere length and type 2 diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2013 Nov 21;8(11):e79993.

Harbo M, et al. The distribution pattern of critically short telomeres in human osteoarthritic knees. Arthritis Res Ther. 2012 Jan 18;14(1):R12.

Rode L, et al. Peripheral blood leukocyte telomere length and mortality among 64,637 individuals from the general population. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2015 Apr 10;107(6):djv074.

Beilfuss J, et al. Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Has a Modest Positive Association with Leukocyte Telomere Length in Middle-Aged US Adults. J Nutr. 2017 Feb 8. pii: jn244137. [Epub ahead of print]

Richards JB, et al. Higher serum vitamin D concentrations are associated with longer leukocyte telomere length in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Nov; 86(5): 1420–1425.

Zhu H, et al. Increased telomerase activity and vitamin D supplementation in overweight African Americans. Int J Obes (Lond). 2012 Jun;36(6):805-9.

 

 

 

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