This is consistent with other surveys, such as that of Dr Gladys Block and colleagues, which found that those taking optimal nutrition levels of nutrients, not just RDA multis, were substantially healthier, with much lower disease risk, than either RDA multi takers, who were found to be relatively healthier than non supplement users. What is unique about this study is that it measured one of the best indicators of ageing is what’s called telomere length. Telomeres are like the strings that access DNA to build new cells. As you age they get shorter. This study, published in the June issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that telomeres were 5.1% longer in those taking supplements. This is also very consistent with the research of Professor Bruce Ames, whose research at the University of California has studied exactly which nutrients help to slow down cellular ageing. This research is helping to identify what level of nutrients most protect DNA. “For each micronutrient we are investigating the level of deficiency that causes DNA and mitochondrial damage in humans.” Says Ames. His research has highlighted the importance of antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, but also alpha lipoic acid, as well as B vitamins, zinc and magnesium. While antioxidants protects us from the DNA damaging effects of oxidants, B vitamins help repair damaged DNA by improving methylation. Lead researcher Dr Chen, from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, proposes that multivitamins may beneficially affect telomere length via modulation of oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.