A new study shows that taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements can change the balance of oils in the diet resulting in a reduction of a biological process associated with aging. The Ohio State University research confirmed that participants who took omega-3 supplements for four months altered a ratio of their fatty acid consumption and helped preserve small segments of DNA in their white blood cells.
These segments are called telomeres, which can shorten over time in many types of cells as a consequence of aging. Study participants took either 2.5 grams or 1.25 grams of active omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids “good fats”, generally associated with a variety of health benefits. More than 100 overweight or obese adults, with an average age 51, who live fairly sedentary lifestyles participated in the study. Some were given a placebo, while others took omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Participants who took one of the two dosages of omega-3 supplements had a definite lengthening in the telomeres, which was apparent when compared to the telomeres in the placebo group.
Researchers said they find the connection between omega-3 supplements and telomere length exciting because “it suggests the possibility that a nutritional supplement might actually make a difference in aging,” said Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, the study’s lead author and professor of psychiatry and psychology at Ohio State University.