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Originally published June 16 2008

Sufficient Vitamin E Intake Prevents Physical Decline During Aging

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Older people with more adequate blood levels of vitamin E appear to experience less physical decline, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Yale University School of Medicine and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers measured vitamin E blood levels of 698 people over the age of 65 who were living in or around Florence, Italy. Over the course of three years, participants were periodically tested on their balance, how well they performed when asked to take a short walk, or to stand up from a sitting position.

"The odds of declining in physical function were 1.62 times greater in persons with low levels of vitamin E compared with persons with higher levels," said lead researcher Benedetta Bartali. "Our results suggest that an appropriate dietary intake of vitamin E may help to reduce the decline in physical function among older persons."

The researchers did not find any connection between physical performance and blood levels of other vitamins, including folate, B-6, B-12 or D. There was also no connection found between performance on the tests and energy intake. This suggests that the protective benefit comes from vitamin E specifically, and not from general nutritional status.

The study was not designed to determine exactly how vitamin E affected the physical decline associated with aging, but the researchers hypothesized that vitamin E's antioxidant properties might be part of what protects the body. In addition, vitamin E is known to play a role in the formation of red blood cells.

Good dietary sources of vitamin E include green leafy vegetables, whole wheat, soy, seeds and nuts, and olives. Bartali noted that it is not clear whether vitamin E supplements provide the same protective benefit as dietary sources.

"Since only one person in our study used vitamin E supplements, it is unknown whether the use of vitamin E supplements would have the same beneficial effect," Bartali said.

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