You are living on the threshold of a new era. When historians look back, they will mark this as the point in time when life on this planet fundamentally changed.
Nobel Prize-winning research has solved the mystery of how we age. We now know a genetic program directed by the length of your telomeres controls how old your body acts.
You know by now that telomeres are tiny caps at the end of each strand of your DNA. Short telomeres are associated with a long list of age-related diseases including heart disease.
Many anti-aging experts and standard doctors missed this discovery. They’re not exposed to that kind of science. Doctors practice what they learned in medical school, and their continuing education is sponsored by special interest groups like pharmaceutical companies.
As an anti-aging specialist, I had an idea early on what the discovery of the telomere and telomerase (the enzyme that rebuilds the telomere) would mean for the world.
At my Wellness Center I put that science to work for my patients. They’re now living younger for longer by maintaining their telomeres.
You see, we didn’t just discover the aging mechanism. We found ways to intervene in the mechanism and maintain the health of telomeres.
One part of that is telomerase. In humans, telomerase production is turned off when you’re an adult. But you can turn it back on.
People are often surprised when I tell them about some of the nutrients that can have a big effect on telomerase in your cells.
Take magnesium as just one example. Magnesium preserves and repairs DNA. Not having enough increases oxidative stress1 and DNA damage.2 Both of those things can damage your telomeres.
A new study shows just how important magnesium is to telomerase.
Studies show that people who die from heart disease have low magnesium. So a group of researchers at the State University of New York’s Medical Center looked into how magnesium affects the heart.
They took a group of healthy animals and tested their normal magnesium levels. Then they divided them into two groups. One got normal feed, and the other group got reduced magnesium.
When the researchers tested the animals again, after only 21 days, their telomerase had plunged by a huge 70-88%.3 Cells in every part of the animals’ hearts had reduced telomerase.
And, low magnesium also caused markers for free radical damage to DNA to increase. That’s like a double hit. Not only did magnesium deficiency reduce telomerase, it also caused telomeres to shorten at the same time.
Why is that important? People who have heart attacks have significantly shorter telomeres.4 One study found an alarming increase in heart attack risk. People with the shortest telomeres had an increased risk between 280% and 320%!5
In a study published in the prestigious journal The Lancet, researchers also found an association between short telomeres and atherosclerosis.6
Deficiency of heart-healthy minerals like magnesium in today’s world is almost an epidemic. About 80% of Americans are deficient. A standard Western diet gives you less than 30% of the bare minimum of what you need.7
Eating more magnesium-rich foods is linked to longer telomeres.8 One delicious way to increase magnesium is with dark chocolate. It contains about 176 mg in just three ounces. I recommend it have at least 70% cacao.
Leafy greens like kale, spinach, and Swiss chard are also rich sources. Other good choices include quinoa, lentils, almonds, sesame seeds, and spirulina.
But even if you eat plenty of those foods, you might not be getting enough. Modern farming methods have depleted the soil of magnesium. And taking medications, even over-the-counter ones, can leech the magnesium out of you.
Magnesium is another piece of evidence that supplements are often necessary.
You have a few choices with magnesium because there are many forms, so let me try to clear up some of the confusion. I recommend taking 600 to 1,000 mg per day. Take it with vitamin B6. It will increase the amount of magnesium that accumulates in your cells.
However, be careful of the cheap magnesium supplements you find on store shelves. They often have impurities, and most are magnesium oxide. It’s the most difficult for your body to absorb. I would also avoid magnesium glutamate. It breaks down into glutamic acid. That’s an excitotoxin and has bad side effects in your brain and nervous system.
If you’re currently in good health, look for the glycinate form. It combines magnesium with the amino acid glycine so it’s easily absorbed. If you can’t get that, look for it bound to citrate or chloride.
However, for better heart and telomere health, use magnesium taurate. It combines magnesium with the heart’s most abundant free amino acid, taurine. It may help prevent arrhythmias and protect you from heart damage caused by heart attacks.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD
1. Morrill GA, Gupta RK, Kostellow AB, Ma GY, Zhang A, Altura BT, Altura BM. “Mg2+ modulates membrane lipids in vascular smooth muscle: a link to atherogenesis.” FEBS Lett. 1997;408:191–197 2. Altura BM et al, “Short-term magnesium deficiency results in decreased levels of serum sphingomyelin, lipid peroxidation, and apoptosis in cardiovascular tissues.” Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2009;297:H86–H92. 3. Shah NC et al, “Short-term magnesium deficiency downregulates telomerase, upregulates neutral sphingomyelinase and induces oxidative DNA damage in cardiovascular tissues: relevance to atherogenesis, cardiovascular diseases and aging.” Int J Clin Exp Med. 2014;7(3):497-514. 4. Zee R, Michaud S, Germer S, Ridker P. “Association of Shorter Mean Telomere Length With Risk of Incident Myocardial Infarction: A Prospective, Nested Case-Control Approach.” Clin Chim Acta. 2009;403(1-2):139-41. 5. Brouilette S, et. al. “White Cell Telomere Length and Risk of Premature Myocardial Infarction.” Aterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2003;23(5):842-6. 6. Samani N, et al. “Telomere Shortening in Atherosclerosis.” Lancet. 2001 Aug 11;358(9280):472-3. 7. Ford ES, Mokdad AH. “Dietary magnesium intake in a national sample of US adults.” J Nutr. 2003;121:2879–2882. 8. Xu Q, Parks CG, DeRoo LA, Cawthon RM, Sandler DP, Chen H. “Multivitamin use and telomere length in women.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89:1857–1863