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DNA damage, a major contributor to aging, occurs from exposure to byproducts of cellular metabolism, environmental chemicals, and radiation from sunlight. If not repaired, DNA damage can be detrimental and is associated with diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. A new study suggests that higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids are associated with lower DNA damage in children and adolescents.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential because the body cannot make them, and they must be obtained from the diet. They include eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA. EPA and DHA, found in fish and other seafood, play key roles in controlling inflammation. Dietary nutrients provide important cofactors that are needed for DNA repair enzymes to function properly.

Previous research has examined the relationship between nutrients and DNA damage in adults. The current study investigated whether the blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids and some vitamins are associated with the level of DNA damage in healthy children and adolescents.

This cross-sectional study involved 140 children between the ages of nine and 14 years. The authors measured blood biomarkers including retinol, beta-carotene, riboflavin, and red blood cell levels of EPA and DHA. They assessed DNA damage using a sensitive test known as the comet assay. The authors analyzed the data using two different statistical techniques and found that DNA damage was inversely correlated with EPA and DHA levels in the blood. Plasma retinol and beta-carotene were also inversely correlated with DNA damage, but only with one of the statistical methods.

These findings suggest that having adequate levels of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA in the blood is beneficial in reducing the risk of DNA damage. This reduction in DNA damage may decrease the risk of certain diseases while increasing healthspan and longevity.

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