Adequate Vitamin D Extends Lifespan

Byron's Comments:

Preserving and assisting telomere health is vital to long life as it determines how many times a cell can divide before it runs out of gas.

Study Title:

Higher serum vitamin D concentrations are associated with longer leukocyte telomere length in women.

Study Abstract:

Background: Vitamin D is a potent inhibitor of the proinflammatory response and thereby diminishes turnover of leukocytes. Leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is a predictor of aging-related disease and decreases with each cell cycle and increased inflammation.

Objective: The objective of the study was to examine whether vitamin D concentrations would attenuate the rate of telomere attrition in leukocytes, such that higher vitamin D concentrations would be associated with longer LTL.

Design: Serum vitamin D concentrations were measured in 2160 women aged 18–79 y (mean age: 49.4) from a large population-based cohort of twins. LTL was measured by using the Southern blot method.

Results: Age was negatively correlated with LTL (r = –0.40, P < 0.0001). Serum vitamin D concentrations were positively associated with LTL (r = 0.07, P = 0.0010), and this relation persisted after adjustment for age (r = 0.09, P < 0.0001) and other covariates (age, season of vitamin D measurement, menopausal status, use of hormone replacement therapy, and physical activity; P for trend across tertiles = 0.003). The difference in LTL between the highest and lowest tertiles of vitamin D was 107 base pairs (P = 0.0009), which is equivalent to 5.0 y of telomeric aging. This difference was further accentuated by increased concentrations of C-reactive protein, which is a measure of systemic inflammation.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that higher vitamin D concentrations, which are easily modifiable through nutritional supplementation, are associated with longer LTL, which underscores the potentially beneficial effects of this hormone on aging and age-related diseases.

From press release:

There is a new reason for the 76 million baby boomers to grab a glass of milk. Vitamin D, a key nutrient in milk, could have aging benefits linked to reduced inflammation, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

In a genetic study of more than 2,100 female twin pairs ages 19-79, British and American researchers found that higher vitamin D levels were linked to improved genetic measures of lifelong aging and chronic stress. Using a genetic marker called leukocyte telomere length (LTL), they found those with the highest vitamin D levels had longer LTL, indicating lower levels of inflammation and body stress. The telomere difference between those with the highest and lowest vitamin D levels was equivalent to 5 years of aging.

Previous research has found that shortened LTL is linked to risk for heart disease and could be an indication of chronic inflammation – a key determinant in the biology of aging. While there are several lifestyle factors that affect telomere length (obesity, smoking and lack of physical activity), the researchers noted that boosting vitamin D levels is a simple change to affect this important marker.

Studies continue to link vitamin D to an array of health benefits, securing vitamin D’s “super nutrient” status and providing even more reasons to get adequate amounts of this essential vitamin. Recent research suggests that beyond its well-established role in bone health, vitamin D also may help reduce the risk of certain cancers and autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

Study Information:

Richards JB, Valdes AM, Gardner JP, Paximadas D, Kimura M, Nessa A, Lu X, Surdulescu GL, Swaminathan R, Spector TD, Aviv A. Higher serum vitamin D concentrations are associated with longer leukocyte telomere length in women. American Jounal of Clinical Nutrition 2007 November 86:1420-1425.

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