Study Title:

Adequate Vitamin D Extends Lifespan

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

Full Study

http://www.ajcn.org/content/86/5/1420.full