Can you control how fast your body ages?

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

August 05, 2013

  • Don’t grow old… grow young!
  • Cutting-edge research reveals the secret to anti-aging
  • 7 nutrients to keep you younger, longer

When it comes to aging, there are two schools of thought.

I have some patients who plan on hitting their senior years full of vim and vigor. They have big plans for the future and don’t want anything to slow them down.

But there’s another group of folks who think aging means suffering through years of devastating illnesses that are going to leave them feeling weak, sick, tired and demented. “It’s just a normal part of aging,” they tell me.

Well there’s absolutely no reason no reason you can’t hit your 70’s, your 80’s and even your 90’s in great health, and with energy to spare.

Today scientists are learning more and more about the aging process. And they’ve discovered that the key to aging – and anti-aging – is something called telomeres.

I’ve written about them before. But here’s a simple, straightforward explanation on how this exciting new discovery can keep you feeling strong, healthy and young as you age.

You see, telomeres are strands of DNA found at the ends of your chromosomes. As your cells divide and split apart, they make copies of themselves to preserve your genetic information. But every time they divide, they become shorter.

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Now here’s the thing. The shorter your telomeres becomes, the sooner the cells in your body die off.

In a nutshell, this means that telomeres control how fast your body ages. The shorter they become, the older and sicker you become. However, the longer they are, the greater your chance of living a long, healthy and active life.

Telomeres might sound like something out of a science fiction novel. But cutting-edge research is showing just how much influence these strands of DNA have on our health.

The truth is telomeres may hold the key to warding off age-related disease and slowing down the aging process.

To put matters in perspective, just take a look at the chronic diseases associated with shortened telomere…

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Dementia/Alzheimer’s
  • Obesity and insulin resistance
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Emphysema
  • More frequent colds and upper respiratory infections
  • Certain cancers
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Celiac disease

Now worrying about all of these conditions is no way to spend your life. And suffering through them in your later years doesn’t have to be a “normal” part of aging.

The key, then, is to find ways to prevent the shortening of our telomeres and keep them as long as possible throughout our lives. That way you can stay younger and healthier, well into “old age.”

Thankfully, research is showing us exactly how to do that…

There are six supplements you can take to prevent your telomeres from shortening. Some of these nutrients can even extend the length of them. That way they’ll still be long and strong in your later years, when you need them the most.

None of these supplements are expensive. And you can pick them up from your favorite supplier or at your local vitamin store…

Folic acid is the supplemental form of folate. And it turns out people with higher folate levels have longer telomeres. On the other hand, those with lower levels have shorter telomeres. It not only affects telomere length, it also has a role in telomere function and DNA repair.

Now you can get natural folate from foods like lentils, edamame, cauliflower and dark leafy greens. But the folate found in foods is harder for your body to absorb than supplementing with folic acid. I suggest 800 mcg daily.

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Vitamin B12 can also help protect your telomeres. Research shows people who supplement with vitamin B12 have longer telomeres than those who don’t supplement. Plus, as in the case of folate, people with higher levels of B12 have longer telomeres and vice versa.

The official recommended amount of vitamin B12 for adults is just 2.4 mcg. But that probably isn’t nearly enough, especially as you get older. That’s why I recommend taking 500 to 1,000 mcg of this exceptionally safe nutrient daily. It’s also smart to eat foods high in vitamin B12. Grass-fed beef and lamb are good meat sources. Sardines, salmon, shrimp, halibut and scallops also provide healthy doses of B12.

Green tea is another big winner when it comes to your telomeres. Chinese researchers report that the telomeres of people who drink 3 cups of tea a day are longer than those who drink just a quarter of a cup daily. When all was said and done, their telomeres were about 5 years younger than telomeres of folks that didn’t drink green tea.

If you don’t like green tea, you can always take it in supplement form. Look for one that contains Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) and is standardized to contain 60% polyphenols. For the most impact, set a goal of 240 to 320 mg of polyphenols every day.

Vitamin D is something we’re sorely lacking here in the U.S. It’s estimated that about 75% of Americans are deficient in this important nutrient. And that’s bad news for your telomeres.

Unfortunately low levels of vitamin D are often accompanied by inflammation. And inflammation causes your telomeres to shorten even faster. The difference in “telomere age” between people with the highest and lowest levels of vitamin D is pretty big. People with the lowest vitamin D levels have telomeres lengths equivalent to 5 years of aging.

Get out in the sun for 15 or 20 minutes a day without sunscreen. If you choose to supplement, look for a formula that contains the vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol. I suggest 2,000 IU daily and up to 5,000 IU if you’ve been tested as deficient.

Omega-3 fish oil may be one of the most important nutrients for telomere support. It not only slows down telomere shortening, it also helps to lengthen them. And recent research shows this can occur in as little as four months.

You can get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids from fish. However, mercury is always a concern.

I recommend avoiding big deep-water fish such as tuna, swordfish and shark. Instead, stick with smaller fish that are low on the food chain. They contain much less mercury. This includes mackerel, salmon, herring, sardines, trout and flounder.

If you choose to take a fish oil supplement, look for one made from cold-water fish that contains at least 360 mg. of DHA and 540 mg. of EPA.

Multi-vitamins normally include folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin D, which I mentioned above. This may explain why women who take a daily multivitamin have, on average, telomeres that are 5.1% longer than non-users. In the long-running Sister Study, the women who did not take a multi-vitamin had an average of 9.8 years of age-related telomere loss.

Look for a full-spectrum formula with plenty of antioxidants – which can also help preserve and lengthen your telomeres.

The evidence is very strong that you can protect – and even lengthen – your telomeres just by increasing your levels of these nutrients. This, in turn, can help reduce your risk of age-related diseases that can leave you weak and frail in your later years.

Don’t wait. Start growing younger today!

Moores CJ, et al. Telomere dynamics: the influence of folate and DNA methylation. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2011 Jul;1229:76-88.

Paul L, et al. Telomere length in peripheral blood mononuclear cells is associated with folate status in men. J Nutr. 2009 Jul;139(7):1273-8.

Chan R. Chinese tea consumption is associated with longer telomere length in elderly Chinese men. British Journal of Nutrition. 2010;103:107-113.

Liu JJ, et al. Plasma vitamin d biomarkers and leukocyte telomere length. Am J Epidemiol. 2013 Jun 15;177(12):1411-7.

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):1420-5.

Kiecolt-Glaser JK, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids, oxidative stress, and leukocyte telomere length: A randomized controlled trial. Brain Behav Immun. 2012 Sep 23. pii: S0889-1591(12)00431-X. [Epub ahead of print].

Xu Q, et al. Multivitamin use and telomere length in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jun;89(6):1857-63. Epub 2009 Mar 11