Omega 3 fats can extend your life

April 13, 2013

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at  the intake of omega 3 fatty acids and its relationship to telomere shortening.  Telomeres are a protective cap on the ends of DNA.  Every time cells divide the telomere shortens a little.  In what is known as the Hayflick limit, cells divide approximately 50 times before it dies.  So the faster the telomere shortens the faster one ages. There have been many factors found to increase the rate of telomere shortening as well as decrease the rate.  In this study, 608 patients with stable coronary artery disease were followed for a median of 6 years.  The leukocyte (white blood cell) telomere length was measured at the beginning of the study and at the end.  Those that had the lowest amount of EPA and DHA experienced the fastest rate of telomere shortening while those that had the highest amount of EPA and DHA experienced the slowest rate of telomere shortening.    EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid ) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are the two main omega 3 essential fatty acids found in oily fish.  According to the authors of this study, "Leukocyte telomere length is an emerging marker of biological age that independently predicts morbidity and mortality.”  Other factors that can increase the rate of telomere shortening include system inflammation, obesity, oxidative stress, and a lack of physical exercise


Association of Marine Omega-3 Fatty Acid Levels With Telomeric Aging in Patients With Coronary Heart Disease. JAMAJanuary 20, 2010; Vol.  303 No. 3

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