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To cell with aging: ALA

Researchers discovered that ALA can turn on an enzyme that lengthens the parts of chromosomes that may keep us young and healthy.

The key to eternal youth–-or at least healthier aging--may be found at the end of our chromosomes. Telomeres, the protective caps on chromosomes, are both a sign and cause of aging.

Longer telomeres mean brighter and probably more golden years. Researchers recently revealed that alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which has an essential role in the cellular power plant mitochondria, can kick start the enzyme that lengthens the telomeres. The discovery holds promise for treating chronic disease.

Emory University researchers conducted the research on mice. The results were published in Cell Reports and noted on

“The effects of chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis and diabetes on blood vessels can be traced back to telomere shortening,” said the study’s senior author Wayne Alexander, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, in a university release. “This means that treatments that can restore healthy telomeres have great potential.”

Research on humans has already backed ALA’s potential to lower the risk of death from coronary heart disease. A meta-analysis of research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the risk of death from coronary heart disease decreased by 10 percent with every daily gram of ALA.

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