Taking approximately 2 gm of omega-3 fish oil supplements a day increases the presence of telomeres in white blood cells and results in a boost to the immune system and increased longevity.
A research study by Ohio State University researchers (1) found that overweight but healthy middle-aged and older adults who took a substantial amount (either 2.5 grams or 1.25 grams) of fish oil omega-3 supplements regularly for four months altered a ratio of their fatty acid consumption in a way that boosted preservation of tiny DNA segments in their white blood cells.
These are called telomeres and they are known to be linked to longevity. As people age telomeres shorten over time, and this shortening is linked to the aging process. Telomeres are sequences at the ends of chromosomes and they protect the ends of the DNA from deterioration, or fusing to other molecules. Think of shoe laces having plastic covers at their ends!
The Ohio State scientists found that lengthening of telomeres in immune system cells was more prevalent in people who substantially improved the ratio of omega-3s to other fatty acids in their diet. What´s more, the substantial and regular supplementation also reduced oxidative stress, known to be caused by excessive free radicals in the blood, by about 15 percent compared to the oxidative stress measured in a control group of research subjects who received placebos instead of real supplements.
“The telomere finding is provocative in that it suggests the possibility that a nutritional supplement might actually make a difference in aging,” said Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychiatry and psychology at Ohio State University and lead author of the study.