Multivitamins linked to younger ‘biological age’

May 26, 2009

The cells of multivitamin users may have a younger biological age than cells from non-users, according to new research from the US.

The aging and lifespan of normal, healthy cells are linked to the so-called telomerase shortening mechanism, which limits cells to a fixed number of divisions. During cell replication, the telomeres function by ensuring the cell's chromosomes do not fuse with each other or rearrange, which can lead to cancer. With each replication the telomeres shorten, and when the telomeres are totally consumed, the cells are destroyed (apoptosis). Previous studies have also reported that telomeres are highly susceptible to oxidative stress .

Researchers noted that telomere length may therefore be a marker of biological ageing, and that antioxidant effects of multivitamins may beneficially affect telomere length via protection against oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. According to the epidemiologic study, the telomeres of daily multivitamin users may be on average 5.1% longer than in non-users, potentially indicating a delayed aging process (1).

However, as regular multivitamin users tend to follow a healthy lifestyle and have a higher intake of micronutrients, it is difficult to interpret epidemiologic observations on multivitamin use. Further investigations are needed to understand the role of multivitamin use and telomere length and its implication in the development of chronic diseases.


  1. Xu Q. et al. Multivitamin use and telomere length in women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2009; 89(6):1857–1863.