Dr. Neal Secrist, a presidential diamond, sent me a note with a link to this article. The article was based is a recent report published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) this past week. Researchers have long known the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, including reduced triglycerides levels, anti-inflammatory, anti-hypertensive, to name a few. This research group from the Bay Area in California, wanted to know the mechanism of how omega-3 fatty acids exert their protective benefits.
One potential hypothesis to test was is there a relationship between omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and telomeres. Telomeres are repeating squences of DNA (TTAGGG)n that reside at the ends of chromosomes (see the red areas in the image). They are thought to form a protective cap for the chromosomes. As cells divide, the enzymes involved in replicating DNA can't fully replicate the ends of the chromosome resulting in a shortening of the chromosome. As research has progressed, telomere length has become a good marker for longevity.
This group wanted to know if supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids would affect telomere lengths. They recruited 608 patients and divided them into four groups. Each group would supplement with increasing doses of omega-3 fatty acids. After five years of supplementation they reviewed the telomere lengths of the patients in each group. The results showed that the group with the lowest dose had shorter telomeres and that as the dose increased the telomeres lengths increased suggesting that omega-3 fatty acids slowed the rate of telomere shortening.
Now the results are promising but preliminary. However, there is substantial evidence for the increased health benefits that one should strongly consider increasing the amount of fish you consume in your diet. A high quality fish oil supplement such as Omega Life-3 or Salmon Omega oil will benefit any person.