It seems like we’re always chasing the fountain of youth (not to mention spending a pretty penny doing it) whether it’s an anti-aging cream, the latest cosmetic treatment, a supplement, or fashion styling tricks. But vanity aside, we all want to improve our longevity so we can live the longest, healthiest, and most fulfilling life possible, right? While the juries are still out on antiaging creams, science says there are factors that can determine longevity.
We actually have two ages: a chronological age determined by when you were born and a biological age, or the age at which your body functions. And your biological age may be younger or older than the age listed on your driver’s license. Translation: You may be 30 chronologically, but have a biological age of 24 and have a lower risk of mortality. But wait, there’s more good news: A recent study suggests that by taking vitamin D, we may be able to slow the aging process—that is, reverse your biological age by one year and promote longevity. Ahead, the experts break down biological age and all the details you need to know about vitamin D supplementation.
What is biological age?
Your biological age takes into account a number of biological and physiological developmental factors other than just the day you were born, such as genetics, lifestyle, diet and disease. Biological age represents the actual age of our cells, tissues and organs, determined by their biochemical status and function, explained Dr. Xiaojing Yang, group leader of epigenetics at myDNAge. Our main area of interest is epigenetics, which studies how our lifestyles and environment can influence the way our genes function and express themselves. This plays a crucial role in determining your rate of biological aging and in turn affects your body’s overall longevity and health span. Using specific DNA methylation biomarkers, we can calculate a person’s biological age.
In other words, biological age is the rate at which you age physically. And your behaviors: Diet, exercise, and sleep (or lack thereof), and exposure to environmental toxins (think: air pollution and chemicals) can affect your epigenetic makeup, determining whether you take years off your biological age or your increases. The main takeaway? What we’ve learned now is that we can literally reprogram our epigenome and reverse biological age at any age, Dr. Mark Hyman, a leading functional medicine expert, explained via Cutting.
So how do you determine your biological age? The most accurate evaluation is to look at your epigenetic data using DNA samples from your saliva, blood or urine. And thanks to a new wave of companies offering home tests that reveal your magic number, it’s never been easier. For more information about testing your biological age, talk to your doctor about which test is best for you.
How Vitamin D Supplementation May Affect Your Biological Age
About 35 percent of adults in the United States are vitamin D deficient, and based on a recent study, these people may be failing to prevent accelerated aging: It found that people with low vitamin D in their blood they were biologically older and had chromosomes (AKA the structures that organize DNA) that appeared older than people with adequate vitamin D levels (30-100 ng/mL).
Dr. William Li, a physician and New York Times bestselling author of Eat To Beat Your Diet: Burn Fat, Heal Your Metabolism & Live Longer, explained why: Vitamin D is responsible for many functions in the body that slow biological aging, such as reducing inflammation, preventing oxidative stress, supporting immune function, improving bone strength, and slowing shrinkage of telomeres, which are the protective caps that defend our DNA. Vitamin D supplementation increases the body’s control over these characteristics of biological aging, although the exact mechanism is still being researched.
What You Need to Know About Vitamin D Supplementation
What dosage should I take?
There is no single dosage and frequency recommendation for taking vitamin D; they depend on many factors, such as individual needs and the environment. Knowing how much vitamin D to take can be a challenge, said Dr. Arielle Levitan, a board-certified internal medicine physician. Most of us are deficient if we don’t take vitamin D supplementation, but knowing a safe amount to take takes some experience. Needs can vary based on factors including where you live (sun exposure is important), skin colour, health condition and body weight. While Dr. Levitan noted that a typical daily dose can range between 800 and 2000 IU, it’s best to determine your daily vitamin D needs by testing levels and working with your doctor to review your diet, lifestyle, and health conditions. Health.
When should I take it?
Most doctors recommend taking vitamin D supplements with a meal to help your body absorb the vitamin, Dr. Li said. Vitamin D is fat soluble, but you don’t have to eat it [it with] fatty food to be absorbed. For this reason, look for a vitamin D supplement that contains fat (like MCTs, fish oil, etc.). While there is no scientific evidence to show whether taking vitamin D at night or in the morning is more effective, some reports state that supplementing with it at night can interfere with sleep. Bottom line: Take vitamin D with a meal and make it part of your routine consistently, whatever time of day works best for you.
Not all types of vitamin D are created equal. Vitamin D should always be taken in the form of vitamin D3, which is more easily utilized by the body than vitamin D2, said Chante Wiegand, naturopathic physician and director of research and development at The Synergy Company. Vitamin D3 should also always be taken with vitamin K2 to support optimal calcium absorption and bone health. While Vitamin D ensures that calcium is properly absorbed, Vitamin K ensures that calcium is integrated into our bones.
Is it possible to take too much?
When it comes to vitamin D, you can have too much of the good stuff. Most vitamin D overdoses result from taking too many supplements, not from excessive sun exposure or a vitamin D-rich diet, Dr. Yang commented. That’s why it’s important to talk to your doctor to determine the right dosage to take, to prevent any side effects like kidney damage.
Wiegand stressed that constant vitamin D supplementation in very high amounts would be required to reach unsafe levels, but it is possible. The signs to watch out for? Very high levels of vitamin D in the blood (above 375 mol/L or 150 ng/mL) can cause nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, confusion, pain, loss of appetite, dehydration, excessive urination and thirst, and kidney stones, she explained .
Shouldn’t anyone be taking vitamin D?
People who have kidney disease, including kidney stones, and those who have high blood levels of calcium or phosphate shouldn’t take vitamin D, Dr. Li said. Some medications, including statins and the heart drug digoxin, have the potential to interact with vitamin D.
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