Washington, Jan 23 : Low levels of vitamin E can lead to decreased physical function in older people, say researchers.
The study led by Benedetta Bartali at Yale School of Medicine randomly selected 698 people of 65 years and above from the population registry in two municipalities close to Florence, Italy.
They collected blood samples to measure the levels of micronutrients including folate, iron and vitamins B6, B12, D and E.
Over a period of three years, the team assessed physical decline of the participants using an objective test of walking speed, rising repeatedly from a chair, and standing balance.
"We evaluated the effects of several micronutrients and only vitamin E was significantly associated with decline in physical function," said Bartali
"The odds of declining in physical function was 1.62 times greater in persons with low levels of vitamin E compared with persons with higher levels," she added.
Bartali further said that results were independent of energy intake, and the effect of low levels of other micronutrients.
"Our results suggest that an appropriate dietary intake of vitamin E may help to reduce the decline in physical function among older persons. 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," she said.
However, Bartali said that vitamin E was the only antioxidant measured in the study and further studies are needed to determine whether low levels of other antioxidants would yield the same results.
The study is published in the January 23 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association.