This One Supplement Can Slow the Aging Process, New Study Says
A high dose can help your body resist the damaging effects of stress.
The list of things people are willing to try to ward off the effects of aging is a fairly long one. But even outside of taking care of your body and mind, it turns out there may be a relatively easy way to postpone some of the effects of getting older. According to a new study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, taking a specific supplement can help slow the aging process. Read on to see what the new research suggests, and for more on daily regimens that could bring longevity, check out These Are the Only 2 Supplements That Help You Live Longer, Study Finds.
A high daily dose of omega-3 can help the body manage damaging stress.
Researchers from Ohio State University used 138 participants between the ages of 40 and 85 who are at high risk for accelerated aging for being "sedentary, overweight, [and] middle-aged." Participants then took either 2.5 grams or 1.25 grams of omega-3s each day, as well as a group who was given a placebo representing a typical daily intake.
After four months, the team then administered a basic 20-minute math subtraction and speech test that has been shown to produce an inflammatory stress response. Results showed that participants who had been given the higher dose of omega-3s showed less stress damage to their bodies than the placebo group, with 19 percent lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and 33 percent lower levels of a pro-inflammatory protein.
Omega-3s help boost the body's "stress resilience" as we age.
The researchers concluded that their results showed a direct relationship between higher doses of omega-3s and stress resilience, noting that patients reported no side effects from the increased dosage. They believe that the supplement can help the body fight off the harmful effects of stress on a cellular level by protecting parts of the cell that typically shrink due to aging.
"The findings suggest that omega-3 supplementation is one relatively simple change people could make that could have a positive effect at breaking the chain between stress and negative health effects," Annelise Madison, the study's lead author, said in a press release from the university. "The fact that our results were dose-dependent, and we're seeing more impact with the higher omega-3 dose, would suggest that this supports a causal relationship." And for more on other daily doses you should consider, These Are the Only 2 Supplements That Help You Live Longer, Study Finds.
Omega-3s could also help reduce depressive symptoms brought on by stress.
But it wasn't just a slowing of the aging process that omega-3s could affect. Researchers also noticed that the reduction in stress-related inflammation brought on by the supplement might help reduce the likelihood of depressive symptoms shown to develop in some people exposed to repeated stress.
"Not everyone who is depressed has heightened inflammation—about a third do. This helps explain why omega-3 supplementation doesn't always result in reduced depressive symptoms," Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, professor of psychiatry and psychology and director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State, said in a statement. "If you don't have heightened inflammation, then omega-3s may not be particularly helpful. But for people with depression who do, our results suggest omega-3s would be more useful."
Previous studies have also linked omega-3s with healthier aging.
This isn't the first study to link omega-3s with aging-related benefits. A study published in BMJ in 2018 followed 2,622 adults with an average age of 74 from 1992 and 2015 to see if they developed any chronic diseases or other mental or physical ailments.
After investigators measured the level of certain omega-3 oils in participants' blood samples, results found that those in the top one-fifth percentile of high omega-3 levels were 18 percent less likely to show signs of unhealthy aging, The New York Times reports. "In our study, we found that adults with higher blood levels of omega-3s from seafood were more likely to live longer and healthier lives. So it is a great idea to eat more fish," Heidi T.M. Lai, PhD, the study's lead author and a postdoctoral fellow at Tufts University, said. And for more on daily supplements you may want to avoid, This Is the One Vitamin You Should Never Take, Doctors Say.