We have discussed telomeres and how the longer your telomere length, the healthier and potentially the longer you may live. Increasing the action of an enzyme called telomerase can lengthen your telomeres, and eating certain foods and taking certain supplements can stimulate this production. In addition, there are several vitamins, which taken in high doses, have been shown to lengthen telomeres.
High Dose B-Vitamins
There are many B-Vitamins that can help lengthen your telomeres. B-Vitamins are essential for energy production and are necessary building blocks of your metabolism. A lack of certain B-vitamins can cause numerous neurological and cardiovascular conditions. Today, there is no reason to be deficient in these vitamins since supplementation and foods rich in them are so available. Although all B vitamins are important, we will discuss a few especially important for telomere lengthening.
Vitamin B9, otherwise called folic acid, plays a vital role in protecting telomeres. Studies show those people with the highest levels of folic acid have longer telomeres. Conversely, those with low folic acid levels have shorter telomeres. Folic acid restores telomerase activity allowing your cells to lengthen their telomeres and give them a new youthful life.
One of folic acids actions is to counteract an amino acid produced as a by-product of regular metabolism called homocysteine. If you have too much of this compound, you can triple the rate at which your telomeres shorten. We recommend you get 800 micrograms per day to protect your telomeres.
Occasionally a person may have a genetic variant that prevents them from utilizing normal folic acid. This variant is called MTHFR deficiency. In these cases, a particular type of folic acid, the methylated form, must be used because the person cannot metabolize folic acid adequately. Most people who have this problem complain of persistent fatigue until the evaluation demonstrates this problem. A blood test at your doctor’s office is all that is needed to check this out. Treatment is a Methyl Folate tablet daily.
Vitamin B7 is Biotin. One way Biotin helps increase your telomeres is by decreasing insulin levels. Excess insulin production increases inflammation. Biotin keeps your insulin production in check and thus improves the way your body uses glucose. It’s a safe and easy way to manage your blood sugar. In one study, biotin lowered diabetic patient fasting blood sugar levels by 45%. Lowering your insulin levels to normal protects your telomeres from insulin-derived inflammation. To get an adequate level of Biotin which lowers your insulin and glucose, you must take at least 2 milligrams (2,000 mcg) a day. It’s also great for the hair and nails.
We recommend taking a high dose B complex vitamin supplement that contains all the B vitamins in therapeutic dose. Something like a B-100 capsule (Physiologics) can ensure that you are getting enough B vitamins to achieve this.
Many studies have confirmed the value of making sure your Vitamin D level is optimized, preferably over 50 ng/ml. Clinical studies have shown that higher serum levels of Vitamin D can boost your immune system,, improve your heart health, strengthen your bones for less fracture risk, decrease your risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. With higher serum levels, Vitamin D confers a cancer prevention action, decreasing the risk of you developing multiple different cancers,  including breast cancer,  colon cancer, lymphoma, ovarian cancer, and kidney cancer.
There are many theories on why vitamin D has so many anti-aging actions. It has been called a “hormone” instead of a vitamin, which can help preserve your body. It has immune boosting actions that can thus decrease inflammation, and inflammation is the root cause of degenerative processes that can occur as we get older. But maybe it is also the fact that Vitamin D has been shown to increase telomerase activity, which is the enzyme that lengthens your telomeres. One study has shown a decrease in cancer up to 77%.
Thus, take Vitamin D every day to boost your levels. We recommend around 5,000 units daily to boost your serum levels up to the proper optimal range. Your doctor can test your blood to see what level you are. If below 50, you might want to consider taking a supplement. Most of us do not go out in the sun enough to produce adequate amounts. Thus, taking a supplement can ensure you are getting enough.
Paul L et al, “Telomere length in peripheral blood mononuclear cells is associated with folate status in men.” J Nutr. 2009; 139(7):1273-8.
Richards J et al. “Homocysteine levels and leukocyte telomere length.” Atherosclerosis 2008 October 200(2):271-
Zhang D, et al. “Homocysteine-related hTERT DNA demethylation contributes to shortened leukocyte telomere length in atherosclerosis.” Atherosclerosis. 2013; 231(1):173-9.
Richards J et al. “Homocysteine levels and leukocyte telomere length.” Atherosclerosis. 2008 October 200(2):271
Lazo de la Vega-Monroy M, et. al. “Effects of biotin supplementation in the diet on insulin secretion, islet gene expression, glucose homeostasis and beta-cell proportion.” J Nutr Biochem. 2013; 24(1):169-77.
Maebashi M, et al. “Therapeutic evaluation of the effect of biotin on hyperglycemia in patients with non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus.” J Clin Biochem Nutr. 1993;14:211-218.
Penna G, et.al. “Expression of the inhibitory receptor ILT3 on dendritic cells is dispensable for induction of CD4+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells by 1, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D3.” Blood 2005; 106:3490-7
Dusso AS, et.al. “Vitamin D. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol 2005; 289:F8-F28 VonEssen, et.al. “Vitamin D controls T cell antigen receptor signaling and activation of human T cells.” Nature Immunology 2009; 11, 344-349
Giovannucci et al. Arch Intern Med, Vol 168 (No 11) June9, 2008
Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Willett WC et al. “Fracture prevention with vitamin D supplementation: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials”. JAMA. 2005; 293(18):2257-64.
Dickens AP, Lang IA, Langa KM, Kos K, Llewellyn DJ. CNS Drugs. 2011 Aug ;25(8):629-39.
Kesby JP, Eyles DW, Burne TH, McGrath JJ. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2011 Jun 1.
Holick MF. “High prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy and implications for health.” Mayo Clin Proc. 2006;81(3):353-73.
Robien K, Cutler GJ et al. “Vitamin D intake and breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women: the Iowa Women’s Health Study.” Cancer Causes Control 2007 Sep; 18(7):775-82.
“Vitamin D and prevention of breast cancer: pooled analysis.” J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 Mar; 102(3-5):708-11.
Garland, Cedric F. et a“What is the dose-response relationship between vitamin D and cancer risk?” l. Nutrition Reviews. 2007;65;8 (Suppl):91-95
Gorham ED, et al J Am Geriatr Soc 2007;32:210-6
Purdue MP, et al. Cancer Causes Control. 2007;18:989-99
Tworoger SS, et al Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2007; 16:783-8
Mohr SB, et al. Int J Cancer. 2006; 119:2705-9.
Zhu H, et al. “Increased telomerase activity and vitamin D supplementation …” Int J Obes. 2012; 36(6):805-9.
Lappe J, et. al. “Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk.” Am. J. Clinical Nutrition 2007; 85, 6:1586-1591.