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Multivitamins Can Slow Aging Process In Women


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By Margarita Nahapetyan

According to a new evidence by U.S. scientists, taking multivitamins may help women live a longer life by preventing parts of their DNA from shortening.

Telomeres, or the end portion of chromosomes, protect chromosomes from damage. The experts say that the length of telomeres may be an indicator of biological aging. The longer the telomere, the longer the cell can replicate. Telomere length is believed to be key to health and longer life. Multivitamin supplements are a major source of micronutrients, which may affect the length of telomeres by modulating oxidative stress and persistent inflammation. Because telomeres shorten slightly when cells divide, researchers speculated that preventing this shortening could protect new cells and, thus diminish the effects of aging. The goal of the study was to analyze and determine whether the use of multivitamins is associated with longer telomeres in female.

"This study provides the first epidemiological evidence that multivitamin use is associated with longer leukocyte telomeres among women," said the main investigator of the research, Dr. Honglei Chen, head of the Aging & Neuroepidemiology Group at the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The expert added that it is not clear yet if this association is causal or not.

For the study purposes, Dr. Chen and his colleagues analyzed data on 586 women with the ages between 35 and 74 years, who took part in the Sisters Study. The Sister Study involves 50,000 women whose biological female sibling was diagnosed with breast cancer but who have never had breast cancer themselves. As part of that study, the women were asked to fill out a 146-item food-frequency questionnaire and report about their use of vitamin supplements over a 12-year period. The investigators also took blood samples from all participants and measured relative telomere length of leukocyte DNA by quantitative polymerase chain reaction.

The results revealed that after adjusting for women's age and other potential factors, the use of multivitamin supplements was associated with longer telomeres. When compared to non-users, the relative telomere length of leukocyte DNA was on average 5.1 per cent longer in those women who were taking multivitamins on a daily basis. This corresponds to about 9.8 years less age-related telomere shortening, the scientists noted. In addition, vitamin E and vitamin C seemed to be most important. High dietary intake of vitamin C and vitamin E had a greater effect on telomere length than other vitamins. And what is even more, intakes of both nutrients were associated with telomere length among the participants who did not use multivitamin supplements.

This is a new research to provide the first epidemiologic evidence that the use of multivitamin supplements is linked to longer telomere length among women. The study is also very important because it stresses out how good nutrition is critical for health. There is a large number of medical research demonstrating that the average diet of Americans is woefully deficient in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients and that between 10 per cent and 15 per cent of individuals in the United States do not get the minimum recommended dose of vitamin supplements and minerals. However, whether the vitamins preserved telomere length or actually lengthened life yet remains unclead, Dr. Chen said.

The report is published in the June issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

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