First off, if you need a quick update on what we are talking about in plain language
I am famous for debunking myths and in the process upsetting lots of people. So, why stop now?
Here are a few things you hear a lot, that are either way over-simplifications or simply not true.
1) Telomeres protect the DNA from unraveling and as they shorten, the DNA unravels and this causes the cell to die or mutate.
While this is theoretically possible, it is probably not a real phenomenon in humans. The length of the telomere is, however, intimately tied to a series of structural proteins that turn cell regulation on and off. In addition, the length of the telomere is directly related to certain cell signaling features that cause the cell’s mitochondria to behave like a nuclear reactor on overload (melt down) and autolyse, or explode, from the inside out. The mitochondria release free radicals that are normally kept inside its own double walled membrane. These free radicals go out into the rest of the cell and the cell dies.
This mechanism is the same, or very similar, to what happens when the cell experiences a double strand DNA break.
Thus, we see ties from “regular “ cell cycle regulation and the mitochondria to the telomere. For the scientist and non scientist alike, this means the telomere tends to fit nicely in the center of several other “theories of aging.”
Remember free radicals, stress, and sleep deprivation are all related to shortening of the telomeres.
For more information on how you can help keep your telomeres longer remember this:
“The Immortality Edge” the definitive (and only) book on how to preserve and lengthen your telomeres will be out via John Wiley and Sons in January of 2011. Since I had a major hand in writing it, I can promise you there is almost no scientific jargon or confusing language. There is just straightforward, no nonsense things you can do right this minute, to help keep your biologic time clocks ticking for a long, long time.
Please note my co-authors Greta Blackburn and Mike Fossel MD PhD are recognized experts in the field of anti-aging and longevity medicine. Please note, there are a lot of people claiming to have expertise who are not authors of the book for the simple reason that they are not experts!
2) Supplements can lengthen your telomeres.
There is only one supplement that turns on telomerase and has been shown to lengthen critically short telomeres (the exact way your natural telomerase works, if and when it is turned on!). That supplement is TA-65.
OK, what else works?
Pharmaceutical Grade Fish Oil: this is proven in a study of heart patients. The higher the dose of Fish Oil, the longer the telomeres, with the highest dose group having the longest telomeres. Please note, no other form of Omega 3 was tested: specifically not krill, flax, chia, lyprinol or salba.
Vitamin D3 appears to have some action, but is not quantifiable yet.
There are other supplements that, by virtue of their anti-oxidant power, are reported to either slow down loss of telomeres, or actually lengthen them, but this has not been repeatable yet. We have a more complete list of natural telomerase activators compiled here.
What does not work?
I personally sent samples of a product called ASTRAGALOSIDE IV for testing at Sierra Sciences lab in Reno, NV. It did nothing. (Please note this was one brand. There are a couple on the market).
Protein powder. A large, well read internet organization is touting protein powder as a way to lengthen your telomeres, via glutathione. There is no proof that this powder a) increases glutathione in the body b) does anything to telomerase or to telomeres. None whatsoever, but by virtue of “who” is saying “what”, people are not applying critical thinking. Or, they’re not thinking at all!
Once again these and more claims and issues and myths and facts are all going to be revealed in our upcoming book “The Immortality Edge” – so make sure you put Jan 2011 on your calendar right now and listen to anyone, or anything else, with a jaundiced eye and a critical ear!
If someone claims to have a supplement that turns on telomerase, or lengthens telomeres, then they should be able to produce data from a reputable independent lab experienced in running these tests to prove it.
Sierra Sciences head scientist, Bill Andrews, has tested thousands of compounds for activity. If you are interested in supporting his work contact him at Sierra Sciences. When Bill wins humanity wins!