From the viewpoint of molecular biological sciences the length of telomeres, a protective cap for the genetic strands, decides how old a person can become. Long telomeres are considered as an indicator of the resistance to premature aging and age-related chronic diseases such as arteriosclerosis, cardiovascular weakness, anemia and cancer. Infants are born with different lengths of telomeres, thus having different starting conditions for a long healthy life span on a genetic basis as well.
A test of 119 mothers and their newborn children found that a balanced folate status in the first trimester helps to lengthen the telomeres and thus the prospect of a long and healthy life (1). With an increase of 10 ng / ml folate in the mother’s blood, a 5.8 percent increase in the average telomere length was observed. Newborns of mothers with the highest folate levels were equipped with about 10 percent longer telomeres than the children of mothers with the lowest folate levels.
Folate, also referred to as vitamin B9 or folic acid, is a water soluble vitamin that the human body needs, especially for the formation of new cells. Pregnant woman have temporarily have a higher demand, which can be covered by an increased consumption of green vegetables, oranges, strawberries, nuts, whole grains, legumes, potatoes and eggs (2).
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(1) S. Entringer et al. Maternal Folate Concentration in Early Pregnancy and Newborn Telomere Length. Ann Nutr Metab. 2015; 66(4):202-8. doi: 10.1159/000381925. Epub 2015 Jun 9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26067849
(2) Fact Sheet Folate Dietary Supply. US National Institutes of Health. Availiable online via: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/