Published on January 28, 2022

Video Friday: What happens to our cells as we age, and how vitamin D (and Omega-3s) can help reduce this process

Key Points

  • Aging of the immune cells (called immunosenescence) can have a negative consequence not only on immune health, but also on the health of other cells
  • One of the key events that occurs as a part of the aging process is the shortening or degradation of telomeres, which can then affect the health of the cells and lead to increased risk of death and disease
  • Studies on vitamin D have shown that individuals with the lowest levels of vitamin D had shorter telomeres; in one study, those with the lowest vitamin D showed an extra 5 years of aging on the telomeres

Aging causes many changes within our cells and tissues, and these changes can present many challenges. It is a process that is influenced by our genes, metabolism, hormonal status, environmental stress, and other factors, and as the aging of the cells and tissues continues, it can lead to the exhaustion of each cell’s ability to renew. Aging of the immune cells specifically (called immunosenescence) can have a negative consequence not only on immune health, but also on the health of other cells. In all, this process can lead to lower immunity, a decreased response to pathogens, increased autoimmunity, lower vaccination responses, chronic diseases (including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive diseases), and increased mortality rates.

How Aging Affects Our Immune Cells

A publication by Rodrigues et al. titled Hallmarks of aging and immunosenescence: Connecting the dots includes some excellent illustrations of the changes within the immune system that result from the aging process. The figure below paints a detailed picture of the many alterations within the immune cells themselves that can occur as a result of aging.

How Vitamin D Can Affect the Way We Age

One of the key events that occurs as a part of the aging process is the shortening or degradation of telomeres, which can then affect the health of the cells. One study on how telomere length affected mortality found a 3 to 8 times increased risk of death due to heart or infectious diseases, respectively, among older individuals with shorter telomeres. The authors found that telomere length could be preserved through a healthy diet (such as the Mediterranean diet), increased intake of antioxidants, and regularly exercise.

The video below by Dr. Rhonda Patrick, PhD., discusses vitamin D and its relationship to telomere length, as demonstrated through several studies.

Below is a quick summary of some of the key points discussed in the video.

  • Vitamin D has been shown to affect gene expression and therefore hundreds of physiological processes within body
  • Our body produces its own vitamin D through UVB exposure, however, there are many factors that affect vitamin D production and utilization
  • As we age, our body becomes less efficient at producing vitamin D, such that a 70 year old produces 4 times less vitamin D than a 20 year old
  • The “Sweet Spot” for vitamin D as she suggests is 30-80 ng/ml (75-200 nmol/L); GrassrootsHealth scientists recommend a vitamin D level between 40-60 ng/ml (100-150 nmol/L)
  • Many are deficient in vitamin D, and the risk of deficiency is worse among those with darker skin
  • The best way to increase vitamin D is through intake; foods contain little vitamin D, and most individuals require supplementation
  • Dr. Patrick suggests that you can start at 4000 IU vitamin D per day, but also suggests testing the vitamin D level so that supplementation can be adjusted in order to achieve the sweet spot
  • Vitamin D can regulate aging process by affecting telomere length
  • Telomeres help protect DNA from damage, but they shorten with age; in fact, short telomeres are a biological marker for aging
  • Shortened telomeres cause cell apoptosis, or cell death
  • Studies on vitamin D have shown that individuals with the lowest levels of vitamin D had shorter telomeres; in one study, those with the lowest vitamin D showed an extra 5 years of aging on the telomeres
  • Another study showed that those with vitamin D levels between 40-60 ng/ml had an increased lifespan compared to individuals with lower levels
  • Animal studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency was linked to premature aging and a shortened lifespan
  • Conclusion: use the tools you have at your disposal, such as testing for vitamin D, to fine-tune your vitamin D level!

Omega-3s Can Also Help Protect Cells from the Aging Process

Another video by Dr. Rhonda Patrick is part of an interview with Dr. Steve Horvath about evidence suggesting that supplemental vitamin D or omega-3 fatty acids can slow epigenetic aging and add years to our lives. Inflammation is another major contributor to aging (termed inflammaging), and both vitamin D and omega-3s have several anti-inflammatory effects within the body and on the health of the cells- making it important to get enough of each on a regular basis.

Measure Your Vitamin D and Omega-3 Levels at Home

Having and maintaining healthy vitamin D levels and other nutrient levels can help improve your health now and for your future. Choose which to measure, such as your vitamin D, Omega-3 Index, omega fatty acid ratios, and essential minerals including magnesium and zinc, by creating your custom home test kit today. Take steps to improve the status of each of these measurements to benefit your overall health. You can also track your own intakes, symptoms and results to see what works best for YOU.

Enroll and test your levels today, learn what steps to take to improve your status of vitamin D (see below) and other nutrients and blood markers, and take action! By enrolling in the GrassrootsHealth projects, you are not only contributing valuable information to everyone, you are also gaining knowledge about how you could improve your own health through measuring and tracking your nutrient status, and educating yourself on how to improve it.

What Does it Take YOU to Get Your D to 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L)?

Did you know your health could be greatly affected by making sure you have a vitamin D level of at least 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L)? Help us help you.

STEP 1 - Do you know what your vitamin D level is? If not, be sure to test today to find out.

STEP 2 – Determine your target level. Are you at your target level? Experts recommend a level of at least 40-60 ng/ml (100-150 nmol/L).

STEP 3 – Need to boost your level? Use the D*calculator to see how much vitamin D it may take to reach your target. Opt for the Loading Dose for a quicker boost.

STEP 4 – Optimize how your body absorbs and utilizes vitamin D with co-nutrients and these simple steps.

STEP 5 – Re-Test! This is an important step to make sure you have reached your target level, and to ensure you are not taking too much! Re-testing after 3-4 months is recommended.

STEP 6 – Adjust, Repeat…

Give your immune system the nutrients it needs to support a healthy you and protect yourself from unnecessary diseases, especially COVID-19.


The first Randomized Controlled Trial on vitamin D and COVID-19 has shown a 96% lower risk of ICU admission for those receiving vitamin D (as 25(OH)D to quickly boost vitamin D blood levels) along with the standard treatment, compared to those receiving standard treatment alone.

These results support many previous observational studies showing a relationship between vitamin D levels and intake and COVID-19 severity.

Review the Latest Nutrient Research for COVID-19

GrassrootsHealth Nutrient Research Institute has launched the new Immune Boost project with the use of our myData-myAnswers nutrient health system that nearly 15,000 people are already using for their health. Specific markers that influence immune health are suggested for testing as part of this project including:

  • Vitamin D
  • Omega-3 Index
  • Essential elements magnesium, selenium, and zinc
  • hsCRP

Our goal is to demonstrate how one can use the Nutrient Research Model established by Dr. Robert Heaney to show the effect of vitamin D serum levels of at least 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L) on risk reduction for all ethnicities in the population. Status and intake of other nutrients will also be analyzed for any type of relationship to immune status and symptom severity. Join the project today!

Please let us know if you're interested in helping sponsor this project.

CLICK HERE for updates and new information about the project.

Through GrassrootsHealth Nutrient Research Institute, you can also test your essential elements magnesium, copper, zinc and selenium, toxins such as lead, mercury and cadmium, as well as your omega-3 levels, inflammation levels and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level. Find out your levels today! Log on to the test selection page (click the link below) to get your tests and see for yourself if your levels can be improved.

Make sure you track your results before and after, about every 6 months!

Click Here to Access the Test Page

How can I track my nutrient intake and levels over time?

To help you track your supplement use and nutrient levels, GrassrootsHealth has created the Personal Health Nutrient Decision System called

For each specific supplement, you can track what days you take it, how much, and many other details.  This will help you know your true supplemental intake and what patterns of use work for you to reach and maintain optimum nutrient levels. Check it out today!