Low plasma levels of vitamin E are linked to physical decline in
elderly people, said a study published Wednesday in the Journal of
the American Medical Association.
The study, led by researchers from Yale University's School of
Medicine, reported that people with the lowest blood levels of
vitamin E have about 60 percent greater chances of a decline in
physical function when compared to people with the highest levels
of vitamin E.
"Low plasma levels of vitamin E are associated with subsequent
decline in physical function," said the study's lead author,
Benedetta Bartali from Yale.
"As an antioxidant, vitamin E may prevent or reduce the
propagation of free radicals in our body, and this may help to
reduce muscle or DNA damage and the development, for example, of
atherosclerosis and other pathologic conditions," Bartali said.
The researchers studied nutrition and physical function in 698
people aged 65 and older in Italy from 1998 to 2003.
They measured levels of certain vitamins in the blood of the
volunteers and then used three tests -- a short walk, balance and
standing up from a seated position -- to gauge their physical
The researchers found with other factors taken into account,
only low levels of vitamin E were significantly associated with
physical decline. Levels of the other vitamins -- folate, B-6, B-12
and D -- did not seem to affect the tests.
"Although the findings from this epidemiological study cannot
establish causality, they provide a solid base that low
concentration of vitamin E contributes to decline in physical
function," the study's authors wrote.
Vitamin E -- often a sign of poor nutrition -- can be found in
foods including wheat germ, corn nuts and seeds, olives, green
leafy vegetables, sunflower, soybean and cottonseed
(Xinhua News Agency January 24, 2008)