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Omega-3s Linked With Slower Aging of Cells

As we age, the protective DNA sequences at the end of our chromosomes – which are called telomeres – shorten and can no longer multiply. Shortened telomeres lead to accelerated aging, cognitive decline and neurodegenerative disease. A recent study suggests that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids may slow the process telomere shortening in people with mild cognitive impairment.

Participants in the study included 33 people over the age of 65 who all had been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. Over the course of six months, they participated in one of three treatments daily:

1. EPA group: 1.67 g EPA and 0.16 g DHA;

2. DHA group: 1.55 g DHA and 0.40 g EPA;

3. Omega-6 group: 2.2 g LA.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted that the omega-6 group had the greatest shortening of telomeres compared with the two omega-3 groups. They also observed that higher levels of DHA in the blood cells of the DHA group were associated with less telomere shortening.

It is believed that oxidative stress and nutritional deficiency play a role in the shortening of telomeres. This study shows the possibility exists that telomere shortening may be able to be modified by nutritional means such as omega-3 supplementation.

Researchers from the University of California San Francisco conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on October 3, 2013, in Nutrition.

Omega-3s have been linked to a number of health benefits, including alleviating arthritis pain, improving mood, helping with age related macular degeneration, and aiding your immune system.

Because omega-3 fatty-acids are not found naturally in the human body, it is especially important to ensure they are 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 flaxseed oil, vegetable oil, and walnuts.

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