The knowledge that there’s a control mechanism for how we age takes the chains off of us.
Telomere biology sets us free because we’re not just destined to do “what our genes say.”
Instead, we have a movie script. Some scenes are sketched in, but you get to direct the movie and decide how you want it to come out.
For me, I turned 58 a few months ago, but I’ll tell you… I sure feel a lot younger.
Who would have thought it could be that simple? That it would be possible to keep a youthful, disease-free body by maintaining – or lengthening – telomeres, the tiny bits of genetic material at the ends of our DNA.
I’ve had the good fortune of being on the cutting edge of this amazing secret. I like to share that good fortune with you as often as possible by showing you the things I find that can help you maintain and lengthen your telomeres.
For instance, by now you’ve heard of tocotrienols, even if you’re not exactly sure what they are or how you can benefit from them. And who can blame you?
Even scientists didn’t know much until a few years ago. Tocotrienols were originally misidentified and misnamed. They were lumped in with the other 7 forms of vitamin E and simply called “tocopherol.” That error stuck for almost 40 years until just a few years ago.1
Just a few other doctors and I who have studied nutrition have been using these little-known isomers of vitamin E for their power to heal.
The gamma tocotrienol all by itself boosts your cells’ antioxidant strength by 300 percent2 and protects your heart muscle.
My new research has shown me that the gamma tocotrienol is also a powerful telomere protector. A revealing study I found out of the University of Malaysia shows that cells given gamma tocotrienol were protected from telomere shortening.3
At the same time, gamma tocotrienol also preserved telomerase activity in cells. Telomerase is the enzyme that rebuilds the telomere. So gamma tocotrienol delivers protection and rebuilding in the same package.
Another study found that all tocotrienols, not just the gamma, elongate telomere length in human cells.4
And other clinical trials show that tocotrienols protect cells so well that they are highly anti-cancer. They keep healthy cells cancer-free and kill off cancerous cells.5
Another example of the power tocotrienols have to lengthen telomeres has to do with HDL.
If you’re a regular reader, you know I advocate high HDL cholesterol for heart protection and health. But, one of the easiest and best ways to maintain your telomeres is to raise your HDL as high as you can.
A recent study found that – separate from any other measurement – those with the highest HDL had the longest telomeres.
What does that have to do with tocotrienols? Tocotrienols give your HDL a huge boost.6
That puts tocotrienols at the top of my new Nutritional Pyramid in the category of “telo-nutrition.” Those nutrients that can help your body grow biologically younger right now.
The question is, how do you get more tocotrienols for telo-nutrition, so you can direct their youth-enhancing part in your life’s movie?
1) My favorite source of tocotrienols is annatto oil.Annatto has mixed tocotrienols (lots of alpha and gamma) and you can make it yourself.
The only two ingredients you need for making homemade annatto oil are annatto seeds and an oil base.
Annatto oil is difficult to buy, but you should be able to buy annatto seeds at a local health food shop.
- If you’re making a cup of annatto oil you’ll need a cup of oil and 6 tablespoons of annatto seeds. One-and-a-half cups of annatto oil will require 1-1/2 cups of oil and 9 tablespoons of annatto seeds.
- Combine the oil and annatto seeds in a small saucepan, and place them over medium heat.
- When the oil starts to bubble, remove the pan from the heat.
- Let the seeds soak in the hot oil for 30 minutes, until the oil has largely cooled, and the seeds have a chance to fully infuse the oil.
- Place a strainer over a glass jar and pour the oil through the strainer. Catch the seeds and throw them out. Cover the jar tightly and place in the refrigerator.
Your homemade tocotrienol-rich annatto oil will keep for up to eight weeks.
2) You can also get tocotrienols is supplement form.
However, just any “vitamin E” isn’t going to do the trick. Most supplements that say vitamin E on them have only alpha tocopherol. Or, they’re “mixed tocopherols.”
Look for a vitamin E that includes a “tocotrienol complex.” You can also look for formulas that specifically say they include “mixed tocotrienols.” At least 30 mg should give you the telomere protection I recommend.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD
1. Merck Index, Tocols: 9631 through 9638, 12th edn. Merck Publishing Group, Rahway, NJ, 1996, pp. 1620–1621.
2.Nowak G, Bakajsova D, Hayes C, Hauer-Jensen M, Compadre C. “γ-Tocotrienol Protects Against Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Renal Cell Death.” J Pharmacol Exp Ther.2011.
3.Makpol S, Abidin A, Sairin K, Mazlan M, Top G, Ngah W. “Gamma-Tocotrienol prevents oxidative stress-induced telomere shortening in human fibroblasts derived from different aged individuals.” Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2010;3(1):35-43.
4. Makpol S et al. 2011. Tocotrienol-rich fraction prevents cell cycle arrest and elongates telomere length in senescent human diploid fibroblasts. J Biomed Biotechnol, 2011: 506171.
5.Lim S, Loh H, Ting K, Bradshaw T, Zeenathul N. “Cytotoxicity and apoptotic activities of alpha-, gamma- and delta-tocotrienol isomers on human cancer cells.” BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014;14:469.
6. Hunninghake, et al, “Incorporation of lean red meat into a National Cholesterol Education Program Step I Diet,” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 2000;19(3):351-360