Low In Vitamin D? Add Years To Your Health Span With A Daily Vitamin D Supplement*
The longevity study design.
The quasi-interventional study analyzed 1,036 older adults (aged 60 to 85) from the BASE-II cohort of the Berlin Aging Study II3 that were also reexamined 7.4 years later (on average) in the GendAge Study. Researchers used epigenetic clocks to determine participants' DNA methylation age (more on that in a moment).
To see how vitamin D affects biological aging, participants deficient in vitamin D that chose to begin supplementation following their baseline examination were compared to participants deficient in vitamin D that chose not to supplement.
What makes this study interesting?
Most longevity studies measure telomere length (often of leukocytes, aka white blood cells) rather than epigenetic clocks. Telomeres are the "caps" on the ends of each DNA strand believed to be a significant biomarker for biological aging. The theory is that our telomeres get shorter as we age, so preserving their length helps protect DNA and leads to a longer life span.
What is DNA methylation? And how does it affect aging?
DNA methylation is the process in which methyl groups attach to segments of DNA, which tells the body which genes to turn on and which to turn off. This mechanism has a profound effect on epigenetics—i.e., how changes in your lifestyle (e.g., diet and exercise) or environment can physically alter your DNA (and thus, your health trajectory).
MTHFR gene variations & DNA methylation.
(To learn more about how a high-quality supplement can promote healthy methylation, check out what experts have to say about mbg's methylation support+.)*
Epigenetics, to the rescue!
Yes, it's true that we're genetically predisposed to certain health situations (like suboptimal methylation) thanks to the DNA our mother and father pass along to us. Thankfully, we're also able to strengthen the integrity and function of our DNA thanks to epigenetics.
For these reasons, epigenetics (and therefore, DNA methylation) are powerful cellular pathways that are closely associated with longevity outcomes.
Using epigenetic clocks.
As mentioned before, epigenetic clocks are tools used to calculate an individual's biological age (aka DNA methylation age, or DNAm age) and its deviation from chronological age. This deviation is called DNAm age acceleration (DNAmAA).
This particular study used five different epigenetic clocks to determine DNAmAA: the 7-CpG clock, Horvath's clock, Hannum's clock, PhenoAge, and GrimAge.
How vitamin D supplementation promotes longevity.
The GeroScience study found that vitamin D supplementation slowed biological aging and extended health span in vitamin-D-deficient individuals.* In other words, addressing your vitamin D gap and need positively affects health and life span (health span).
Of the vitamin-D-deficient study participants, those who took vitamin D supplements showed lower DNAmAA in both the 7-CpG clock (2.6 years lower) and Horvath's clock (1.3 years lower) when compared to vitamin-D-deficient participants that did not supplement.*
Furthermore, the biological age of vitamin-D-deficient individuals that began supplementation did not differ from vitamin-D-sufficient people, revealing the true staying power of vitamin D supplements in regard to longevity outcomes.*
The results of this study confirm that healthy vitamin D status (by way of intentional supplementation) is conducive to longevity and healthy biological aging.*
Looking for the right vitamin supplement for you? Check out mbg's roundup of the best vitamin D supplements on the market.
Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition. Chamberlain believes in taking small steps to improve your well-being—whether that means eating more plant-based foods, checking in with a therapist weekly, or spending quality time with your closest friends. When she isn’t typing away furiously at her keyboard, you can find her cooking in the kitchen, hanging outside, or doing a vinyasa flow.