Ryan O’Shea talks about a study showing that Vitamin D supplements have an effect on epigenetic aging on this episode of Lifespan News.
A study published in GeroScience has uncovered a link between Vitamin D supplementation and a reduction of epigenetic age.
A previous study using a cohort of 60- to 85-year-old participants showed that people who are deficient in Vitamin D have an epigenetic age that is nearly a year more than average. Now this new study set out to answer a different question: Does restoring Vitamin D through supplementation reverse the effects on epigenetic age?
The participants in this research, like those used in the original work, are from the Berlin Aging Study II, an extension and expansion of the longitudinal Berlin Aging Study intended to investigate how additional years of life can be lived in a healthy and active manner.
At baseline, nearly half of the participants were deficient in Vitamin D, and only 7% were taking supplements; in the follow-up portion, only a quarter were deficient, and a fifth were taking supplements. Both times, about three-fifths of the participants received their blood draws during the sunnier months of the year, when Vitamin D deficiency is less likely.
The researchers note only 55 people whose increases in Vitamin D can neither be explained by supplements nor by season. They also note that, while some people who were originally taking Vitamin D supplements had stopped, a full 82% of the supplement takers in this study had only begun after their baseline examination.
In order to analyze the effects of supplementation, the researchers noted 63 people who had previously been deficient in Vitamin D but who became sufficient after supplementation. They then matched these participants, based on demographic data to 63 people who were deficient and unsupplemented, marking them as the untreated group. Finally, after matching, another 63 unsupplemented but healthy people were utilized as controls.
Participants who went from deficiency to sufficiency through vitamin D supplements were shown to be epigenetically younger by more than two and a half years according to the 7-CpG clock and a year and a quarter younger according to the Horvath epigenetic clock, which is also associated with chronological age. However, while some effects were visible on the Hannum, GrimAge, and Levine clocks, these differences were not statistically significant.
There were also no significant differences between the Vitamin D supplemented group and the people with naturally healthy levels of Vitamin D.
Despite the researchers’ efforts, this is still a longitudinal study and not a true, blinded effectiveness study. There was no placebo group, and the treatment, untreated, and healthy groups were established after the fact. The researchers also note multiple potential confounding factors, most notably that people taking Vitamin D supplements might have attempted to improve their health through other means as well.
With that in mind, it is likely that an ongoing lack of vitamin D is having an effect on epigenetics. However, to prove the existence of such a causal relationship, more study is needed
When there’s more to share, we’ll have it for you here. I’m Ryan O’Shea, and we’ll see you next time on Lifespan News!