Cross-Sectional Analysis of Telomere Length in People 33-80 Years of Age: Effects of Dietary Supplementation
Calvin B. Harley, PhD; Joanne Chan, BS;
Marsha Blauwkamp, PhD; Francis C. Lau, PhD, FACN;
Jamie F. McManus, MD, FAAFP; Drew Watson, PhD;
Evangelos Hytopoulos, PhD; and
Bruce P. Daggy, PhD, FACN
Menlo Park, CA
Telomere length has been associated with aging, age-related diseases, adverse conditions, and mortality. Moreover, studies in humans suggest a causal role of short telomeres or accelerated telomere shortening in disease and mortality risk. A previous cross-sectional study has shown that Shaklee supplement usage significantly improved various health parameters and nutritional status.  The objective of the current cross-sectional study was to explore the effect of dietary supplementation on telomere length.
The normal range of telomere lengths was determined from saliva samples in a population of healthy, non-smoking subjects aged 33-80 from the San Francisco Bay Area (control group; n=324; 147 males and 177 females) who took no more than 3 supplements daily. The telomere lengths of heavy supplement users (supplement group; n=80; 21 males and 59 females), the majority of whom took more than 12 Shaklee supplements at least 4 days per week, were compared to the age-matched control group. Disease and smoking status were not exclusion criteria for the supplement group. Telomere length was measured by quantitative PCR to determine the telomere-to-single copy gene (T/S) ratio. Change in T/S ratio over time was fitted to a linear regression. Blood biomarkers were also assessed.
Overall, women had longer telomeres than men in the control group, but this trend was reversed in the supplement group. (Refer to Figures 3 & 4 below) T/S ratio of the supplement group was 11.2% greater than that of the control group (p<0.0001). Supplementation resulted in a greater treatment effect in men vs. women (p<0.005). By linear regression, the rate of change in T/S ratio was reduced by 40% in the supplement group vs control. Blood biomarkers in both groups were comparable and were within the normal physiological ranges.
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The results of this cross-sectional study suggest that heavy Shaklee dietary supplementation significantly attenuated telomere shortening in subjects compared to a healthy control group. Longitudinal studies are warranted to further explore the link between nutritional supplementation and healthy aging in the context of reduced rate of telomere shortening.
1) Control group – San Francisco Bay Area healthy male and female non-smokers aged 30-80 who took no more than 3 (generic) supplements daily.
2) Supplement group – male and female supplement users aged 30-80 who took at least 5 Shaklee supplements 4-6 times weekly for at least 5 years regardless of their health and/or smoking status. Participants in this group were from all regions of the country.
1) Control group – recruited through agreements with local companies who agreed to advertise the study and allow their employees to participate at the workplace by sending email flyers from HR department. Other residents in the Bay area were recruited through, newspaper and radio advertisements, fliers and craigslist ads.
2) Supplement group – recruited at the Shaklee 2012 Leadership Conference held in San Francisco.