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Omega-3 Fatty Acids: the Fountain of Youth?
Date:6/20/2013

ipants were randomly assigned to one of three groups. The first group received 2500 milligrams of Omega-3 fatty acids daily, the second group received 1250 milligrams of Omega-3 fatty acids daily, and the third group received a placebo containing the equivalent proportions of fatty acids (high in Omega-6s) seen in the typical pro-inflammatory American diet.

Both groups taking the Omega-3 fatty acids showed a 15% decrease in oxidative stress F2 isoprostanes, which are blood markers for free-radical cellular damage. Interleukin-6, a blood marker for pro-inflammatory cytokines, was 10-12% lower than those taking the placebo.

The lengthening of DNA telomeres in the immune cells was also noted in the groups taking the Omega-3 fatty acids. Telomeres are short DNA fragment “caps” at the end of DNA strands which protect chromosomes from deteriorating or fusing to neighboring chromosomes. This has a large impact on cellular aging, as shorter telomeres are related to age-related diseases and early death.

The telomeres shorten every time a cell divides which limits the number of divisions, thereby setting a limit on a cell’s lifespan. Organs begin to deteriorate as more cells die off. Shorter telomeres are related to an increase in cancer, increased risks of degenerative diseases, and earlier death.

The greatest telomere lengthening was seen among those with the lowest Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio. Possible benefits of high Omega-3s are seen in the prevention of cancer, reversal of the aging process, and the prevention of many degenerative diseases of aging such as heart and cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s, along with improvement in inflammatory disorders such as arthritis.

While Omega-3 fatty acids may not be the fountain of youth, they are a useful nutritional intervention in reducing the triad of inflammation, oxidative stress, and immune cell aging which are the forerunners of many degenerative health
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