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Vitamin D and lifestyle: effects on DNA methylation

News
August 14, 2022
By
Olena Mokshyna, PhD.

Combined vitamin D supplementation and high physical activity lead to positive epigenetic changes in the elderly.

 

The genetic background directly influences health, diseases, and longevity predisposition. However, the expression of genes can be modulated through lifestyle and environmental factors in a process called epigenetic changes. The mechanism behind that – DNA methylation of specific genes – can drastically influence the final health outcomes. Diet, behavior, stress, physical activity, and aging are known to influence DNA methylation. A large body of evidence suggests that epigenetic changes are closely linked to the number of age-related disorders as well.

Another factor strongly linked to various health problems is vitamin D. Its deficiency plays a role in many disorders, including osteoporosis, depression, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer mortality. Certain groups have a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, especially the elderly. In the United States, it was estimated that 61% of the elderly are vitamin D deficient.

But how is vitamin D linked to epigenetic changes? Its metabolism is a complicated multistep process, which involves several receptors and enzymes. The active vitamin D metabolite 1,25(OH)2D3 or calcitriol has a proven effect on gene regulation through vitamin D receptor (VDR). However, its ability to influence gene expression via DNA methylation is currently studied.

Cruz et al. examined the influence of vitamin D and lifestyle factors on DNA methylation in healthy individuals aged 70-95 in Southwest Sweden. The researchers aimed to understand how lifestyle factors can affect methylation patterns and, through them, epigenetic age. Vitamin D intake was obtained through three different sources: diet, supplements, and sun exposure. Dietary intake in this study was investigated through the fish consumption. Additionally, all participants answered the questionnaire on lifestyle, vitamin intake, medications, and overall health.

The authors showed that specifically vitamin D supplementation combined with high levels of physical activity triggered changes in DNA methylation. The methylated genes were those of the VDR pathway, the Wnt-signaling (pathway related to cell life/death), and cancer-related pathways. An increased level of methylation was also observed for the supplement group in calcium-binding mitochondrial carrier protein (SCaMC-1). SCaMC-1 has the vital function of supporting mitochondrial ATP synthesis and fat mass regulation. The authors were also able to confirm previous epigenetic clocks findings.

This study is the first one showing that combined vitamin D supplementation and high physical activity lead to positive epigenetic changes in the elderly. That would allow for a development of more precise and accurate guidelines to support longevity and healthy aging.

 

Source Scientific Reports

 

The genetic background directly influences health, diseases, and longevity predisposition. However, the expression of genes can be modulated through lifestyle and environmental factors in a process called epigenetic changes. The mechanism behind that – DNA methylation of specific genes – can drastically influence the final health outcomes. Diet, behavior, stress, physical activity, and aging are known to influence DNA methylation. A large body of evidence suggests that epigenetic changes are closely linked to the number of age-related disorders as well.

Another factor strongly linked to various health problems is vitamin D. Its deficiency plays a role in many disorders, including osteoporosis, depression, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer mortality. Certain groups have a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, especially the elderly. In the United States, it was estimated that 61% of the elderly are vitamin D deficient.

But how is vitamin D linked to epigenetic changes? Its metabolism is a complicated multistep process, which involves several receptors and enzymes. The active vitamin D metabolite 1,25(OH)2D3 or calcitriol has a proven effect on gene regulation through vitamin D receptor (VDR). However, its ability to influence gene expression via DNA methylation is currently studied.

Cruz et al. examined the influence of vitamin D and lifestyle factors on DNA methylation in healthy individuals aged 70-95 in Southwest Sweden. The researchers aimed to understand how lifestyle factors can affect methylation patterns and, through them, epigenetic age. Vitamin D intake was obtained through three different sources: diet, supplements, and sun exposure. Dietary intake in this study was investigated through the fish consumption. Additionally, all participants answered the questionnaire on lifestyle, vitamin intake, medications, and overall health.

The authors showed that specifically vitamin D supplementation combined with high levels of physical activity triggered changes in DNA methylation. The methylated genes were those of the VDR pathway, the Wnt-signaling (pathway related to cell life/death), and cancer-related pathways. An increased level of methylation was also observed for the supplement group in calcium-binding mitochondrial carrier protein (SCaMC-1). SCaMC-1 has the vital function of supporting mitochondrial ATP synthesis and fat mass regulation. The authors were also able to confirm previous epigenetic clocks findings.

This study is the first one showing that combined vitamin D supplementation and high physical activity lead to positive epigenetic changes in the elderly. That would allow for a development of more precise and accurate guidelines to support longevity and healthy aging.

 

Source Scientific Reports

Article reviewed by
Dr. Ana Baroni MD. Ph.D.
SCIENTIFIC & MEDICAL ADVISOR
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Dr. Ana Baroni MD. Ph.D.

Scientific & Medical Advisor
Quality Garant

Ana has over 20 years of consultancy experience in longevity, regenerative and precision medicine. She has a multifaceted understanding of genomics, molecular biology, clinical biochemistry, nutrition, aging markers, hormones and physical training. This background allows her to bridge the gap between longevity basic sciences and evidence-based real interventions, putting them into the clinic, to enhance the healthy aging of people. She is co-founder of Origen.life, and Longevityzone. Board member at Breath of Health, BioOx and American Board of Clinical Nutrition. She is Director of International Medical Education of the American College of Integrative Medicine, Professor in IL3 Master of Longevity at Barcelona University and Professor of Nutrigenomics in Nutrition Grade in UNIR University.

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