Telomeres are the end caps of chromosomes, protecting the DNA complexes from deterioration during cell division. Telomere shortening is considered a marker of cellular aging, and prematurely shortened telomeres have been linked to increased risk of cancers, heart disease, dementia and death. Nathan O’Callaghan, from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO; Australia), and colleagues enrolled 33 men and women, ages 65 years and older, with mild cognitive impairment, assigning each to one of 3 groups: the first group received EPA (eicopentaenoic acid) omega-3 supplements (1.67 grams EPA & 16 g DHA.day), the second group received docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) omega-3 supplements (1.55 g DHA & 0.40 g EPA/day), and the third group received omega-6 linoleic acid (2.2 g/day) for six months. The team observed that DHA reduced the shortening of telomeres, while omega-6 exerted the greatest shortening of telomere length. The study authors conclude that: “Telomeric shortening may be attenuated by [omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid] supplementation.”
Nathan O’Callaghan, Natalie Parletta, Catherine M. Milte, Bianca Benassi-Evans, Michael Fenech, Peter RC. Howe. “Telomere shortening in elderly people with mild cognitive impairment may be attenuated with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation: A randomised controlled pilot study.” Nutrition, 3 Oct. 2013.
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