If you’re interested in supporting your longevity efforts, you may have heard that having shorter telomers is a sign of biological aging – and thus, having longer telomers is a sign of living a longer life. These little chromosomal caps help protect our DNA from damage and measuring the rate of decay over time can give us an accurate prediction for life span.
While we don’t quite know if telomere shortening is the cause of death or simply a byproduct of it, one thing is for certain – telomere length is, in fact, associated with biological aging. And as it turns out, having longer telomeres is linked to a reduced risk of dementia as well.
By the way, I suggest that you re-read what I wrote about telomeres on January 9, 2015.
What telomere length has to do with dementia risk
A new study published by PLOS ONE compared telomere length in white blood cells to brain MRIs in over 31,000 UK participants and found several interesting correlations between telomere length and cognitive function.
They found that individuals with longer telomeres had better brain health measurements, including:
- Larger volume of gray matter
- Larger hippocampus region
- Thicker cerebral cortex
- Lower volume of white matter hyperintensity
- Lower basal ganglia deposition
Shrinking gray matter volume, hippocampal atrophy, brain iron accumulation, and accelerated thinning cerebral cortex are all associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Volume of white matter hyperintensities increases with aging and is an indicator of cognitive decline.
This study’s results suggest that longer telomeres provide neuroprotective actions and help prevent dementia. Additionally, accelerated cellular aging is a potential biological pathway for neurodegenerative disease.
How to increase your telomere length for healthy aging
While the biological aging process is a bit complex, lengthening telomeres to support healthy cellular aging is surprisingly simple.
When it comes to nutrition, there are two simple tools that can help increase telomere length and promote longevity:
- Daily multivitamin use was found to increase telomere length by 5%.
- Higher vitamin D levels were also found to be associated with longer telomeres.
Telomere length has been linked to biological aging for quite some time now, and a recent study from PLOS ONE shows that longer telomeres may even play a part in protecting the brain from dementia.
Consider lengthening your telomers with the help of a daily multivitamin and/or a quality vitamin D3 supplement.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking medications, consult with your doctor when considering what supplements are right for you.
That’s it for now; see you all the next time.