Vitamin E and aging

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
January 21, 2008 9:00:00 PM PST
There is new information about staying mobile as we age. It turns out a certain nutrient may do the trick, and working it into your diet is key.Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg.

Staying healthy as we age becomes particularly important as we head into our older years. Now, a new study from the Journal of the American Medical Assosciation says Vitamin E should be an essential part of our diet.

Older people like 81-year-old Lois Acampora, who eats healthily and walks daily, knows that physical function can still gets tougher as the years add up.

"I do notice that within the past year to year and a half, I've noticed how I've slowed down physically and mentally," he said. "And i don't like it."

Now, researchers say a common micronutrient could be playing an important role in our physical aging.

"Our results show that only vitamin E is associated with subsequent decline in physical function," said Dr. Benedetta Bartali, of Yale University School of Medicine.

Dr. Bartali and her colleagues studied random Italians over age 65.

They compared nutrient levels in blood with the ability to perform basic skills such as walking, standing up from a chair and balancing.

Out of nearly 700 people studied, about half experienced a decline in physical function within three years. The study found low levels of vitamin E were associated with this decline.

"Having an adequate level of vitamin E may reduce the decline in physical function," Dr. Bartali said.

But more studies will be needed. Still, current recommendation say you need at least 15 milligrams of vitamin E each day.

Nuts like almonds or sunflower seeds are good sources. So is olive oil. And the best source is always food.

"I would say it would be important to have a dietary intake of at least 15 to 30 milligrams per day of vitamin E," Dr. Bartali said.

Only one participant in the study reported taking a vitamin E supplement. Researchers say getting vitamin E from food may be best to avoid having too much synthetic vitamin E in your body.

The study used data collected in Tuscany, Italy from 1998 to 2003. Further studies are needed to determine whether appropriate intake of vitamin E can help prevent physical decline and disabilities as we age.

For more information on the study, visit Jama.org.


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