EPA and DHA supplementation has been found to reduce telomere shortening in patients over the age of 65 with mild cognitive impairment.
Telomeres are DNA sequences that protect the ends of chromosomes in each of our cells and so keep them healthy. Over time, as cells replicate, the telomeres shorten and eventually fade away – at this point, apoptosis occurs and the cell dies. Telomere length can be shortened more quickly, however, in response to damage via oxidative stress.
Researchers involved in the study explain that “damage specific to the telomeric ends of chromosomes is one of the most critical events that initiate genome instability leading to accelerated ageing, cognitive decline and neurodegenerative disease.”
That is to say, if we can find a way to protect the telomeres from damage, it may be possible to prevent or delay conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease, motor neuron disease and Huntington’s disease.
It is therefore exciting news that EPA and DHA, which can be obtained from fish oil and krill oil supplementation, seem to slow down the decline of these protective telomeres.