A new study has found that vitamin D3 may slow aging by increasing the length of telomeres, the section of a chromosome that shortens as we age and when the body is subjected to increased inflammation.
The scientists studied the effects of vitamin D3 on leukocyte telomere length (LTL) in 2,160 women aged 18 to 79 years. LTL, a predictor of aging-related disease, decreases with each cell cycle we undergo in our lifetimes and also during increased inflammation. Because vitamin D3 is a potent inhibitor of the proinflammatory response, it diminishes turnover of leukocytes. Consequently, the researchers hypothesized that vitamin D3 may have an effect on leukocyte telomere length in the subjects.
The study authors established a strong link between vitamin D3 levels and telomere length. They found that after taking into account the age of the subjects, women with higher vitamin D3 levels were more likely to have longer telomeres.
The results indicated that subjects with the highest levels of vitamin D3 had 107 more base pairs in their telomeres than subjects with the lowest levels of vitamin D3. This meant that the telomeres in the subjects with high vitamin D3 levels were five years younger than the telomeres in the subjects with low vitamin D3 levels. This difference was further accentuated by increased concentrations of C-reactive protein, a measure of systemic inflammation, in subjects with low vitamin D3 levels.
The researchers believe that the results demonstrate for the first time that people who have higher levels of vitamin D3 may age more slowly than people with lower levels of vitamin D3.
According to the study authors, “Our findings suggest that higher vitamin D concentrations, which are easily modifiable through nutritional supplementation, are associated with longer LTL,” which may explain the potentially beneficial effects of this vitamin on aging and age-related diseases.
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. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Nov;86(5):1420-1425.