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Elevated plasma magnesium and calcium may be associated with shorter telomeres in older South Australian women.

Authors: N J NJ. O'Callaghan, C C. Bull, M M. Fenech
Published: 02/13/2014, The journal of nutrition, health & aging


Telomeres are structures that cap the ends of chromosomes. The integrity of the telomere structure and its DNA hexamer (TTAGGG)n repeat sequence is critical for protecting the ends of chromosomes from degradation and in maintaining overall chromosomal stability. Currently, there are limited data on the influence that nutrition has on telomere length. Recent studies have suggested that micronutrients may influence telomere length. Here we examined the relationship between telomere length in lymphocytes and plasma calcium, magnesium, selenium and zinc status in a healthy cohort of younger and older adults. We report a negative association between telomere length and both plasma calcium and magnesium levels, (r=-0.47, P=0.03 and r=-0.61, P=0.001 respectively), in older females; Intriguingly Ca/Mg ratio was positively associated with telomere length (r=0.55, P=0.007). These relationships were not observed in the younger adults, nor in the older males. In conclusion, our study provides preliminary evidence suggesting that levels of plasma magnesium and calcium may impact on telomere length in lymphocytes in older women.

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