Back in 2009, the secret to living forever—okay, not forever, but longer—lay in telomere preservation. Telomeres are the endcaps of DNA strands in our chromosomes—think plastic tips on shoelaces. The telomeres get shorter with each cell replication, and when the telomeres get too short, the cell dies.
So you could say that the fountain of youth—or at least a trickling tributary—can be found in the vitamins that preserve telomeres and therefore lengthen cell life. Chief among these is vitamin D. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that higher levels (about 50 ng/ml of vitamin D) were associated with as many as five additional years of life thanks to telomere preservation.
A new study published in the online advance edition of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirms that vitamin D is even more important to longevity and disease avoidance than we may have thought. The researchers found that doubling serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) levels—to, again, about 50 ng/ml—would reduce the global vitamin D–sensitive disease mortality rate by an estimated 20 percent.
Vitamin D–sensitive diseases account for more than half of the global mortality rate and include cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory infections, respiratory diseases, tuberculosis and diabetes mellitus. The estimated increase in life expectancy, simply by doubling serum vitamin D, is two years. Globally.
Fortifying your products with vitamin D
Currently the RDA for vitamin D is 400 IUs. Most of us will need a lot more than that to achieve serum levels of 50 ng/ml. How much more? It will vary for everyone, but “as a general rule, each 100 IU of vitamin D increases serum 25(OH) levels by 0.7 to 1.0 ng/ml,” said Donna Sullivan, MS, Principal & Chief Scientific Officer at Sano Foods. As this research gains traction and vitamin D continues to be touted as the No. 1 immune-boosting supplement, consumers will be looking for vitamin D supplements that pack a much bigger punch than the standard 400 IUs. Easily customizable dosing methods like liquids could be a great solution.
Best part? Fortifying your products with vitamin D, even at levels well above the RDA, is cheap. “Let’s say we use a dry D3 100, or 100,000 IUs per gram, and a kilogram of D3 100 costs $45.00,” posited Dan Murray, vice president of business development at Xsto Solutions. Crunching the numbers that translates to about 4.5 cents per gram (or 4.5 cents per 100,000 IUs. That means it costs less than half a cent (.45 cents) per 1000 IUs—an ideal dosage level, but probably not one the industry will adopt widely. Murray makes the math even more digestible:
Cheerios – 9 servings per box so adding 9,000 would cost 0.41 cents per box. 400 IUs would cost 0.164 cents per box.
Store brand Mac & Cheese – 2.5 servings per box would add 2,500 IUs and cost 0.11 cents per box. 400 IUs would cost 0.044 cents.
Nestle Hot Cocoa Mix – 10 packs/servings would cost 0.45 cents per box. 400 IUs would cost 0.18 cents per box.
- Smuckers Jam – 28 servings per squeeze bottle would cost 1.26 cents per squeeze bottle. 400 IUs would cost .50 cents per bottle.