Say hello to telomeres
This article was originally published in October 2015
You’ve likely heard the word antioxidants — they’re supposed to slow many signs of aging by protecting your cells from oxidizing. Telomeres are a newer discovery, and they protect something far more specific.
Each cell in your body has chromosomes; these are the keepers of your unique combination of genetic information. Chromosomes are microscopic strands, and the ends of these strands have tiny buffers called telomeres. Some researchers compare telomeres to the plastic sheaths at the end of shoelaces, which keep the laces from fraying; they also act a bit like the bumpers on bumper cars, and prevent chromosomes from sticking together.
Cells divide on a regular basis, and each time it happens, the protective telomeres are shortened a bit. In young people, telomeres appear to be about 10,000 nucleotides long, and they’ll shorten at varying speeds in individuals as they age. Once a telomere becomes too short to serve in its protective role, the cell will begin to die; enough cells die and the result can be a variety of age-related health conditions, from cardiovascular problems to Alzheimer’s. Research indicates that one way to delay aspects of aging is to protect the length of your telomeres, and fascinating techniques are being developed in labs that may offer telomere-related treatments for a range of specific diseases.
Early research indicates that simple lifestyle changes can also decrease the deterioration of telomeres. Try meditation or yoga for relaxation, getting more vigorous exercise (about 15 minutes a day) and maintaining a diet that offers abundant lean protein, folic acid and vitamin D.
If you’re looking for an additional boost to support your telomeres, choose from two supplements that have developed combinations of ingredients designed to target this part of your cells.
Source Naturals Telomeron
The package recommends four tablets per day, which provides 2000 IU of vitamin D-3 and 100 mcg of B-12, combined with a variety of plant extracts. The list of extracts includes astragalus, turmeric, green tea leaf, purslane and grape seed.
Enzymedica Telomere Plus
This one-a-day vegetarian capsule combines astragalus root, broccoli seed extract and rhodiola (western roseroot) extract for a proprietary Telomerin blend. That blend is combined with 500 IU of vitamin D-3 in a supplement that doesn’t contain soy, gluten, egg or dairy.