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Omega-3s May Slow Down Cell Aging

Scientists are able to determine the biological age of cells by measuring the length of telomeres. Telomeres are the tiny caps on the end of DNA strands that become shorter as we age in part due to damage from oxidative stress. Shortened telomeres have been associated with poor health behaviors, age-related diseases and early mortality.

Oxidative stress in the body has been linked to an imbalance in the ratio of omega-6’s and omega-3s. Most Americans have a diet that contains too many omega-6 dietary fats and not enough omega-3s. A recent study suggests that taking supplements of omega-3s could correct this imbalance and reduce oxidative stress by 15%.

Participants in the study included 106 overweight, sedentary middle-aged and older adults. Over the course of four months, one third of the group took supplements of 2.5 grams of active omega-3 essential fatty acids, one third took 1.25 grams of the omega-3s, and one third took a placebo.

The researchers found that the omega-3 supplement groups substantially improved the ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s. This was associated with lengthened telomeres in the immune system cells.

This suggests that lowering the ratio of omega-6s and omega-3s could positively impact cell aging and potentially lower the risk of a number of age-related diseases.

The study was conducted at Ohio State University. It was published online ahead of print on September 23, 2012 in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

Because omega-3 fatty-acids are not found naturally in the human body, it is especially important to make sure that they are a part of your daily diet. Oily, dark fish such as tuna and salmon are high in DHA and EPA omega-3s, while ALA omega-3 fatty-acids are plant derived and can be found in flaxseeds and flaxseed oil.

If you don’t like fish or you’re worried about the high mercury levels found in some fish, consider taking a high quality supplement that has been tested for purity and potency.

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