Low blood vitamin E levels predict physical decline in older individuals

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that people over the age of 65 who are vitamin E deficient are much more likely to suffer declining physical function than people with adequate vitamin E in their bodies.

The study involved 698 participants who lived in Tuscany, Italy. The researchers saw that there was a wide variation in physical function among men and women of this age group and they wanted to know which factors influenced this. Examinations of the participants were performed upon enrolment from November, 1998 through May, 2000. The tests they underwent included walking speed, chair rises, and standing balance.

All of the participants had fasting blood samples evaluated for concentrations of folate, vitamins B6, B12, D, E and iron. The participants had a reassessment of their physical function after three years, which took place between 2001 and 2003.

Half of the women and men were found to have experienced physical decline after three years.

Older age (being older than 81 years) and low blood vitamin E levels were the greatest predictors of physical decline. Individuals whose blood vitamin E levels were among the lowest 25 percent had a 62 percent higher risk of physical decline than the other subjects. Having low vitamin D levels was also related to subsequent physical decline, but not as significantly as with vitamin E.

The authors of this study believe that oxidative stress (free radical damage to the body’s tissues) is involved in muscle fatigue and that antioxidants such as vitamin E help to prevent muscle damage by reducing oxidative injury.

The researchers believe there are at least 3 mechanisms that help explain the effect of low concentrations of vitamin E on subsequent decline in physical function:

  1. increased oxidative stress leading to damage to muscle cells or DNA (genetic material),
  2. worsening of atherosclerosis and other pathological conditions that reduce the health of arteries, and
  3. development of neurodegenerative disorders.

It’s very easy to be vitamin E deficient, especially if you follow a low fat diet or you have poor digestion

Foods highest in vitamin E include nuts, especially almonds and hazelnuts, extra virgin olive oil and avocados. These are all extremely healthy foods but many people don’t eat enough of them; especially if trying to lose weight.

Avoiding these foods is a misguided attempt at weight loss. Your body needs good fats for a number of reasons, including improving the efficiency of your metabolism and helping to make you feel full and satisfied.

Vitamin E gets destroyed by heat, therefore it is best to consume raw (unroasted nuts) and olive oil should be drizzled over your meal after it has been cooked. Heating olive oil also starts to destroy some of the delicate fatty acids in it. Coconut oil, ghee and animal fats like lard and tallow tolerate heat better and are therefore more appropriate for cooking.

If you do not include vitamin E rich foods in your diet regularly, you could take a vitamin E supplement. Vitamin E capsules should be taken with a meal that includes some fat, as it is a fat soluble nutrient.

Good fat digestion is also very important in order to absorb vitamin E from foods or supplements. If you experience bloating or indigestion, or you regularly eat meals while hurried or stressed, you may notice a world of difference by taking a digestive enzymes supplement with meals. The enzymes in this formula supplement your own body’s enzyme levels, which are often lacking. They will help you to digest your meals more thoroughly and extract more nutrients from them. You’ll also be left feeling much more comfortable after meals.

If you experience indigestion, nausea or diarrhea after oily foods, you would benefit from an ox bile supplement. If you have had your gallbladder removed, there is almost a 100 percent chance that you do not digest fats and fat soluble vitamins like vitamin E adequately. Taking an ox bile supplement will support your own liver’s production of bile and should help reduce symptoms of indigestion.

The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.

Reference
http://jama.jamanetwork.com/searchresults.aspx?q=Benedetta%20Bartali&t=&p=1&s=1&c=0