Did you know that people who look younger than their actual ages also live a longer and healthier life than those who look older than their years?
In a long-term study involving 913 pairs of twins, Danish researchers discovered that the twins who looked younger than their true age had better health and longer survival rates than their older-looking siblings. And the larger the difference in perceived age, the more likely it was that the older-looking twin died first.
What did the researchers find was the reason for this difference? p>
The people who looked younger had longer telomeres.(1)
In a nutshell, the shorter your telomeres (the caps at the ends of your chromosomes that keep the strands of your DNA from fraying), the faster you age. Cells with shorter telomeres begin to slow down and act old. Eventually, the damage makes you age more quickly. So you look older, feel older, and are more vulnerable to age-related disease and death.
Keep your telomeres from getting shorter and you can actually be healthier as you get older. You’ll get a younger immune system, make your cells act younger and be able to keep doing what you love – even things you’ve never done before – no matter your biological age.
Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to maintain your telomere length.
One way is to activate telomerase. Telomerase is an enzyme found in all of your cells that tells your telomeres to rebuild themselves. Once activated, telomerase can actually make your cells – and your body – younger.
You may have seen the news about the recent study at the University of California-Davis. Researchers looked at people who were at a wellness retreat and found that after three months, people doing meditation training had 33 percent higher telomerase activity in their white blood cells than those who weren’t meditating.(2)
The problem is they were meditating for six hours a day. Do you know anyone who has that kind of time? I don’t…
But you can boost your telomerase activity without spending six hours sitting still…with omega-3.
A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association followed about 600 people over a full five years. They found that daily supplements of omega-3 significantly increased telomerase activity.(3)
The best sources for supplementing with omega-3 are cod liver oil and Sacha Inchi oil. Try to get around 3 grams of omega-3 every day.
There are many other things you can do that I use in my practice to help my patients stay young and maintain telomere length. I talk about all of them in my new book Reset Your Biological Clock, but here are three:
1. A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that you can take a significant step toward maintaining and extending the length of your telomeres with specific vitamin supplements.
The study showed that people who take a daily multivitamin had younger DNA and had 5.1 percent longer telomeres than non-users.(4)
When you go to buy a multivitamin, stay away from discount store brands … they are inexpensive because those companies buy the cheapest, synthetic ingredients on the international market. This is one area where I don’t recommend cutting corners. Stick with a brand you know and trust.
2. That American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study was full of good news. It turns out that vitamin B12 supplements increase telomere length. And vitamins C and E increase the lifespan of cells by preventing telomere shortening.
Why are vitamins B12, C and E so effective at maintaining telomere length?
It’s their powerful antioxidant activity. Your telomeres are extremely vulnerable to oxidative stress.
It’s always a good idea to start with eating foods that give you the vitamins and minerals that keep you healthy. Here’s a list of good food sources of the telomere-supporting vitamins:
Foods Sources of Vitamins B12, C and E
- Beef (Grass-fed)
- Beef Liver
- Red & Green Bell Peppers
- Turnip Greens
- Olive Oil
I recommend you get:
- At least 100 mcg per day of vitamin B12 – and up to 500 mcg for energy
- 3,000 mg per day of natural vitamin C – up to 20,000 mg in times of stress or sickness
- A natural E complex vitamin (it will say “mixed tocopherols” on the label) of 400 IU per day
3. In another study, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at more than 2,000 women of all ages. The more vitamin D they had in their bodies, the longer their telomeres were. On top of that, people who supplemented with vitamin D had longer telomeres than those who didn’t.(5)
To get some vitamin D in your system, spend some time in the sun for 20 minutes each day. If you don’t see the sun too much in the winter, you can eat some of those same cold-water, fatty fish that give you omega-3. There’s also vitamin D in egg yolks and orange juice.
If you’d like to get your vitamin D in a supplement, make sure it’s vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol). I usually start my patients with 2,000 IUs a day and work up from there if blood levels aren’t responding. Blood levels are helpful to tell you how much you need to take.
1 Christensen, Kaare, et al, “Perceived age as clinically useful biomarker of ageing: cohort study,” BMJ 2009;339:b5262
2 Jacobs, Tonya L. , Epel, Elissa S., Lin, Jue, Blackburn, Elizabeth H., et al, “Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators,” Psychoneuroendocrinology 2010
3 Farzaneh-Far, Ramin, M.D., “Association of Marine Omega-3 Fatty Acid Levels with Telomeric Aging in Patients with Coronary Heart Disease,” JAMA 2010; 303(3):250-257
4 Xu, et al. “Multivitamin use and telomere length in women,” Am. J. Clin. Nutr. (March 11, 2009)
5 Richards, J Brent, et al, “Higher serum vitamin D concentrations are associated with longer leukocyte telomere length in women,” Journal of Clinical Nutrition Nov. 2007; Vol. 86, No. 5, 1420-1425
Dr. Al Sears is fast becoming the nation's leading authority on longevity and heart health. His cutting edge breakthroughs and commanding knowledge of alternative medicine have been transforming the lives of his patients for over 15 years.
Dr. Sears currently owns and operates a successful integrative medicine and anti-aging clinic in Wellington, Florida with over 15,000 patients. Over the course of his career, he has developed his own approach to heart health, longevity and anti-aging medicine - combining the best of modern medical science with natural holistic techniques and treatments.