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High Vitamin D Level Associated With Longer Telomere Length

Telomeres are the “caps” at the end of each strand of DNA and damage to them is associated with shorter lifespans. A recent study suggests that higher levels of vitamin D may be associated with longer telomeres.


The aging and lifespan of normal, healthy cells is linked to the telomerase shortening mechanism, which limits cells to fixed number of divisions. With each division the telomeres shorten.  When the telomeres are totally consumed, the cells are destroyed. Previous studies have noted that telomere length may be a marker of biological aging.


Participants in the study included 1,542 people between the ages of 20 and 39, 1,336 people between the ages of 40 and 59, and 1,382 people age 60 and older. After adjusting for gender, race and ethnicity, BMI, and other potentially confounding factors, the researchers found that having serum vitamin D levels of at least 50 nmol/L was associated with a 0.13-kbp longer leukocyte telomere length in the middle aged adults when compared with the same aged adults who had serum vitamin D levels of 50 nmol/L or lower.


Researchers from the University of Tromsoe, the University Hospital of North Norway, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on February 8, 2017, in The Journal of Nutrition.


Previous studies have associated vitamin D with improved lipid profiles in diabetics, lower risk of asthma and allergies in children, reducing the risk of skin damage, reducing the risk of osteoporosis, combating diabetes, lower risk of cognitive decline, and improving age-related macular degeneration.


Vitamin D can be found in milk, fortified cereals, fish, and eggs. Your body also processes vitamin D from the sun but it becomes harder for our bodies to process it as we age. A high quality vitamin D supplement is always a good option if you feel that you’re not getting enough through diet and sun.

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