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To Your Health

Telomere Length: Part III

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04/01/2011 - Howdy! This is a follow up to our previous articles on telomeres. As you may recall, telomeres are the end caps of our DNA. When a cell divides the length of the telomere will shorten. This is a marker for cell aging that is called the "Hayflick limit". Taking multivitamins and eating a healthy diet (key word -- healthy) will slow down this process. What else, you ask?

In the January 2010 Journal o/the American Medical Association an article entitled "Association of Marine Omega-3 Fatty Acid Levels With Telomeric Aging in Patients With Coronary Heart Disease", the following was presented:

Telomere length is emerging as a marker of biological age, integrating the "cumulative lifetime burden of genetic factors and environmental stressors (example-our article last month) independent of chronological age. Telomere length is an emerging marker of biological age that independently predicts morbidity (rate of disease) and mortality (death)". This article focused on studies regarding cardiovascular diseases and Omega-3 fatty acids intake. The conclusion was that "Multiple epidemiologic studies, including several large randomized controlled trials, have demonstrated higher survival rates among individuals with high dietary intake of marine Omega-3 fatty acids and established cardiovascular disease."

As you may have remembered from previous articles I have written, Omega-3 fatty acids are cardio protective. How, you say? Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory (with less side effects than some other anti-inflammatory meds), anti-platelet, anti-hypertensive, anti-arrhythmic, triglyceride-lowering, and telomere lengthening.

For each standard deviation increase in Omega-3 fatty acid levels, there was an associated 32% increase in the telomeres (WOW!). "Baseline of marine Omega-3 fatty acids were associated with decelerated telomere attrition (slowing down the shortening of telomere length). These findings raise the possibility that Omega-3 fatty acids may protect against cellular aging in patients with coronary heart disease."

It is also noted that longer telomeres are linked to taking nutritional supplements, including multivitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and folic acid. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation reduces vascular stiffness (iimportant in hypertension), slows age-related cognitive decline (Alzheimer's), and reduces age-related macular degeneration. In animals, dietary enrichment with Omega-3 fatty acids prolongs life span by approximately one-third." How does this happen, you may ask? It occurs by increasing the enzyme telomerase. Remember our last article. Telomerase increases the length of the telomere, therefore slowing down the aging of our cells. Other factors that will affect telomere length are systemic inflammation, obesity, oxidative stress (free-radicals), and lack of physical activity.

Well, 1 hope you learned something this month. Until next month -- See ya!!

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