Telomeres are the endcaps on chromosomes, and telomeric shortening is thought to govern the number of times a cell can divide. Telomeres are also thought to be highly susceptible to damage by free radicals. Researchers from the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS; North Carolina, USA) studied multivitamin use and nutrient intakes, as well as telomere length, among 586 women, ages 35 to 74, enrolled in the Sister Study. Compared to non-multivitamin users, the team found that telomeres were 5.1% longer in those who took a daily multivitamin. Further, the researchers observed a positive relationship between telomere length and intakes of vitamins C and E from foods.
Previously, researchers from Memorial University (Newfoundland) found that a dietary supplement containing 18 vitamins, minerals, and trace elements helped healthy men and women age 65 and over enhance their ability to live independently and without major disability. Benefits included improvements to short-term memory, problem-solving ability, abstract thinking, attention span, and immunity. Further, the team calculated that for every $1 US spent on a multivitamin/mineral supplement, $28 US could be saved in healthcare costs by preventing or delaying illness and functional decline.