Methylation & Your Telomeres

Do you ever wonder why some people are blessed with long lives compared to others? Without going into numerous philosophical, sociological and spiritual questions, there is a very interesting part of your body that provides insight into longevity. It’s called a telomere. Research suggest these telomeres which cap the end of our DNA impact how fast we age.

Think of telomeres like the plastic tip on the end of shoe strings. For you trivia buffs, the tip of the shoestring is called an “aglet.” I learned that this year, at 50 years old, lol! So think of the shoes strings as strands of DNA with all your chromosomes. Each time your cell divides, a little bit of the telomere cap is lost. Over time, your telomere shortens. It’s supposed to, that is completely normal.

Your cells divide a fixed number of times before dying. If your telomeres are healthy and long to begin with, the strand of chromosomes is protected through each cell division. Once cell division has maxed out its number of times to divide, and the telomere length runs out, then cell health breaks down and problems occur. This is known as the Hayflick Phenomenon which refers to the number of times a cell divides until it dies. It correlates with lifespan, and telomeres play an important role.

Researchers have been studying these telomeres for some time and they have known that critically short telomeres cause chromosome instability.  Recent research sheds additional insight. Long damaged and dysfunctional telomeres also cause chromosome instability that eventually leads to cell death.

If you have a sick cell that really needs to go,  let it go!

The fascinating practical piece of information for you and I, is how scientists just discovered that critical nutrients are needed for healthy telomeres. In cell studies, researchers found dysfunctional short and long telomeres more frequently in cells with insufficient folate and thus, reduced methylation. In this particular study, the lack of folate damaged the telomere cap; they were frayed and ‘beat up’ leaving an open door to the chromosomal material. Now remember, without healthy telomeres, your DNA gets damaged. Before leaving folate, and moving on to B12, I want to make one more comment. Folate is the natural form of the B vitamin you think of when you hear “folic acid.”

But folate and “folic acid” are not exactly the same. The folate form is critical for methylation, the folic acid form might hinder methylation. That comes as a shock to many people, and if you’d like to understand the difference between these 2 B vitamins, and which one is synthetic (avoid), then read my article, Genes, Methylation and Your Health. 

Human studies have confirmed that Vitamin B12 is also required for healthy telomeres. A recent study published in the European Journal of Nutrition studied telomeres from 60 elderly people.  They compared supplement intake with vitamin B6, B12, folate, calcium, and vitamin D (versus just vitamin D and calcium). Then they measured homocysteine levels.  After a year, they found that individuals who had elevated homocysteine and reduced B vitamin intake, had reduced methylation and shorter telomeres. This group was literally aging faster.

There are very expensive supplements designed to support telomere health, but I never recommend them. I just haven’t seen credible enough studies on them to justify the small mortgage of a price.  So I suggest two natural B vitamins (B9 and B12) to improve detoxification. You can get them from eating a salad every day! 
You can also supplement, start low and go slow noting reactions or improvement. Eating is ideal though, as you can’t get any harmful side effects of nutrients that way.

If you would like to see the methylation pathway, I have an image of it HERE, (you will need to click on the little image on the right side of the webpage to enlarge it).  The methylation pathway is included on my brand new “Keyring Pathways” which is a resource for health care practitioners (and gene-savvy consumers) covering 13 pathways in total.  It is about Medication-Induced SNPs and how 100s of drugs block your pathways by inhibiting cofactors.

Feel free to leave your comments below regarding this article or telomeres. Please help each other. That is why I keep this forum open. I will pop in from time to time and answer a few of your general questions. I hope you liked today’s article 🙂



  1. Billie Burns November 10, 2015 at 6:58 pm - Reply

    Suzy, I love your e-ms and look forward to reading them. We can never learn too much re our health. Thank you.

  2. Lori November 10, 2015 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    Thank you Suzy. I look forward to reading your articles always!
    You said,
    “Your cells divide a fixed number of times before dying. If your telomeres are healthy and long to begin with, the strand of chromosomes is protected through each cell division. Once cell division has maxed out its number of times to divide, and the telomere length runs out, then cell health breaks down and problems occur”.

    Isn’t cell death natural? I would like to know how this is impacted by the generation of new cells. Doesn’t our body continually generate new cells to replace the old ones? Does the new cell come with it’s own new telemere? Or does the new cell use old telemeres? I’m confused.

    Thanks for clarifying!

    • Suzy Cohen January 15, 2016 at 6:29 am - Reply

      Yes exactly Lori, cell death is natural and desired when a cell is old and tired, and used up.
      My problem is some supplements/people want to keep repairing the telomeres which in my humble opinion, might possibly lengthen the life of a sickly cell that needs to go. It’s certainily food for thought. I might not be right, it’s just my opinion as of now. The new cell comes with it’s own new telomere, the old cell dies with it’s old telomere.

  3. Sonja November 10, 2015 at 7:52 pm - Reply

    Hi Suzy, thank you so very much for your articles that you publish on this platform. My first encounter with you was your book” Drug muggers”. I has changed my life tremendously. I also have Diabetes without drugs, I am not a diabetic ,but I share my info with friends and clients. Each article is amazing. Blessings to you, please keep them coming.

  4. Anita Beaty November 10, 2015 at 8:43 pm - Reply

    You are the most knowledgeable resource person I have encountered on this and other issues. THANK YOU.

    Anita Beaty

  5. Pat November 10, 2015 at 8:56 pm - Reply

    SO a salad…what EXACTLY are the foods that contain these critical B vitamins? Thank you.

  6. Angel Flecha November 10, 2015 at 9:23 pm - Reply

    WOW!! This is a great article. Thank you.

  7. Laura Fidler November 10, 2015 at 9:41 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this article, Suzy. I have known for some time about methylation and make a point to serve greens and salads daily to my family, as well as follow a plant based diet 80% of the time, but I hadn’t heard the connection to telomeres. We also supplement with a methylation booster including food-based B6, B12, and folate. We like Thorne and Emerald Labs. We have MTHFR defect in my family and all noticed a dramatic improvement in our skin, sleep, and overall vitality when we began to supplement. For iodine, we eat organic seaweed, not daily but regularly. Thanks again!

  8. Raymonda November 10, 2015 at 9:43 pm - Reply

    Hi Suzy, I have the same methylation problem as you I believe, I saw you on KTC about 2 years ago. This sounds just like me, I feel as though i have aged 10 years in the last 2! Yes,salads and
    diet is cruitial. Does this have anything to do with older women having hot flashes?

  9. Amy G. November 10, 2015 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this article, but if the daily salad you say is good to eat is made of raw spinach, I believe the eater is at risk of kidney or salivary stones, due to the oxalates. Correct?

  10. Catherine November 10, 2015 at 11:17 pm - Reply

    I found out that accutane is actually a chemo drug. I’ve heard some say that it “works” by shortening the telomers of all cells and that could be why it has such devastating and permanent side effects.

  11. Denise November 11, 2015 at 12:07 am - Reply

    I’m so glad I take my B vitamins after reading this ! Suzy you certainly make us aware of so many things helpful for our bodies….and the research you do is amazing!
    Thank you !

  12. Pat November 11, 2015 at 1:21 am - Reply

    I hate b vitamins the always have a horrid smell and a nauseous burp back

  13. Karla Maree November 11, 2015 at 3:47 pm - Reply

    Hi Suzy,

    You talk a lot in your various blogs/articles about over-methylators. Plenty of us are under-methylators. Can you give some time to talking about the “other” methylation issue.


  14. Louis November 11, 2015 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    Suzy, you are a fount of knowledge, you have increased my knowledge tremendously. Keep on the good work.
    Thanks for your global tutoring.

  15. Jane Allen November 11, 2015 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    Susie, I mostly look forward to your newsletter, and learn something important every time. For me, it was amazing what a little $5. bottle of B12 did for my energy!
    Nice how you provided a simple & low cost, natural alternative to $$$$ supplements. But I dread hearing how my life will be shorter because I can’t afford the constant stream of supplements you suggest.

  16. Barb November 11, 2015 at 8:57 pm - Reply

    Thanks for a very informative article Suzy. I always learn something new. There is one thing missing tho – what it is in salads that you must eat to get the B9 and B12? Is it the lettuce, tomatoes or the dressing?

    • Suzy Cohen November 18, 2015 at 9:28 pm - Reply

      Leafy greens, mainly the dark ones, esp. kale, spinach, and chard.

      • Yvonne Ward November 22, 2015 at 12:51 am - Reply

        I have an oxalate problem and I can’t eat those. They are on the extremely high and high list ibyhink. I guess u would need to supplement?

  17. Ricki ingersoll November 12, 2015 at 3:40 am - Reply

    When a person has a significant MTHFR mutation just eating a salad does not work. You have written about MTHFR but it seems you are not connecting the dots. Depending on the expression of the mutation, the age, health and will to survive many supplements may be required to extend life and heal the individual.


  18. Andrew Specht November 12, 2015 at 4:04 am - Reply

    I are confused, how do I get B12 from a salad? I are a DC and never thought I’d have a favorite pharmacist. But I got one now. Thanks for your effort.

    • Suzy Cohen November 18, 2015 at 9:26 pm - Reply

      LOL- yay!
      It’s mainly meats as you know but also very prominent in dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, chard, mustard greens, everything your mama told you to eat 😉

  19. Matt November 12, 2015 at 5:07 am - Reply

    Excellent publish. I used to be checking out consistently this web site that i’m encouraged! Useful data specially the past part 🙂 I actually handle like facts a lot. I became seeking this kind of specific facts for just a while. Thank you and also all the best .. Matt.

  20. Valarie November 12, 2015 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    I love this website and reading what other people suggest. I just had genetic testing done for my daughter who has many health and emotional issue, and got the raw data, but does anyone know a highly knowledgable DR that can suggest supplement, and explain what all her spt=mean. I live in Australia, but can Skype?? would appreciate any suggestions.

  21. Gayle November 12, 2015 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    I hope someone can help me out. I want so badly to do 23andme, but after 3 failed attempts, was told that I do not have enough white blood cells in my saliva for them to test. Repeated attempts won’t help, it will be the same results. I’m so disappointed and don’t know where to turn next. Are there any other DNA tests out there that don’t use saliva white blood cells? I’ve been chronically ill for years and was hoping this would help put the puzzle together.
    Thanks for any and all help!

    • Marianne November 21, 2015 at 1:14 pm - Reply

      Gayle, My naturopath ordered a MTHFR genetic test done at Quest Diagnostics for me. However, I do not know what other genetic tests they do. I have also heard that Dr. Amy Yasko does comprehensive genetic testing. Maybe Suzy will respond, too! Best in health! Thank you, Suzy for all that you do! You are awesome!

      • Marianne November 21, 2015 at 1:17 pm - Reply

        Sorry…it was a blood test! No saliva needed!

    • Marlisa Hurt, PhD December 1, 2015 at 1:54 pm - Reply

      You need to activate your body’s production of white blood cells! For your health and longevity, not just for the 23andme test.
      One simple way to do this is by using a rebounder.
      Alternative Cancer therapies published years ago, that rebounding for as little as 2 minutes, once each hour, was more effective at flushing the lymph system and bolstering immune responses than other drug methods…AND it increased WBC production by 30%

  22. patty mccartney November 12, 2015 at 4:32 pm - Reply

    I am on thyroid medication would I be able to take your thyroid supplement?

  23. Missy November 12, 2015 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    I love studying about telomeres. I came across them a couple of years ago. Amazing how incredibly designed we are.

    Thank you for the informative article.

  24. vishva November 13, 2015 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    Dear Suzy,,,
    as always,your info is clear with great impact, simply love everything u write,,,
    thank u so much,,,,please keep it up,,,,

  25. Jennifer November 16, 2015 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    I was tested and found I am missing a gene for methylation. My doc has tried me on a supplement twice and both times I felt worse, confined to the couch. We are instead working on my digestion and cleaning up my diet. I take Betaine and B12. I really need to eat more veggies ?

  26. Khali November 16, 2015 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    Hi Suzy, I would like to know if those tests to check your Telomeres are reliable or any good.

    Thank you

  27. Mary November 17, 2015 at 12:29 am - Reply

    I keep seeing “SNP” on your site, but have no clue what the letters stand for. Please include the definitions of such acronyms in every article the first time they are mentioned.

  28. stephanie November 19, 2015 at 7:28 pm - Reply


  29. Pat November 19, 2015 at 10:23 pm - Reply

    I just went on

    I see that raw kale, spinach and swisschard, all one cup portions contain no Vitamin B12. What am I missing. I regularly consume these dark leafy veggies and was excited to hear you tell it contains B12. Thank you for clarifying. Thanks for all you do for us.

  30. Katrina November 21, 2015 at 8:25 am - Reply

    SNPs are single nucleotide polymorphs.

  31. Lorrie November 21, 2015 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    Yep, I really regret supplementing with folic acid every day for 10 yrs when I was vegan. Can correct choices now restore damage? I am A1298C XX..

  32. Tania November 22, 2015 at 3:06 am - Reply

    Thanks for the interesting article.

    The part about this that is confusing is that Walsh says an undermethylator should never take supplemental folate but you are saying EVERYONE should take folate. Please clarify!

  33. Maile D. November 24, 2015 at 4:35 am - Reply

    I read your book Drugmuggers and felt so much more informed. I have read and heard about telomeres and methylation but never really understood it and you give an excellent analogy for the average person to comprehend complicated science. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

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