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Lower blood levels of vitamin E, larger physical decline in old
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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 functioning.


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 oils.  


(Xinhua News Agency January 24, 2008)


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