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June 2023
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The Link Between Physical Activity and Vitamin E

Active Senior Give Me an E!

There’s a very nice gentleman that works out at my gym named Frank. Frank’s not unlike the other regulars; he comes in, exchanges pleasantries with the staff and his fellow exercise addicts, goes through his weightlifting routine and leaves after about an hour and a half. One thing makes him stand out, though: he’s 85 years old!

Though there are lots of older folk that attend my gym, few lift weights with the same amount of weight and intensity as Frank.  As such, I’ve often wondered what’s coursing through Frank’s veins that other people his age don’t have.  Willpower is certainly one; good genetics is probably another.  The other thing he probably has a lot of that I didn’t give much consideration to is vitamin E. 

You probably didn’t think vitamin E played much of a role in one’s level of physical activity.  And why would you?  After all, vitamin E is usually referenced in health reports when it comes to improving one’s skin, or assisting in the digestion and the absorption of nutrients from food.  You may have even heard it referenced as a protection against diseases like Parkinson’s and bladder cancer.  But according to research from the Yale School of Medicine, vitamin E also plays a role in the decline of physical activity among the elderly.

To determine this, researchers collected blood samples from approximately 700 people in the 65 and older age bracket.  They then analyzed the levels of vital nutrients and vitamins in their bloodstream to see if any of them were lacking.  Participants were also asked to perform various physical tasks so researchers could detect the level of physical decline over a three-year period.

What the researchers found was that among the people whose physical activity declined the most, they all had low levels of vitamin E. 

“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,” said Benedetta Bartali, nutritionist, author and lead researcher of the study.  “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 believe vitamin E plays this role in physical activity because of its antioxidant properties.  Antioxidants work to rid the body of free radicals, the very free radicals that adversely affect one’s level of physical activity.  However, because vitamin E was the only antioxidant tested in the study, the researchers can’t be absolutely certain low levels of vitamin E is the common thread.  Further tests will examine other antioxidants and their impact on physical activity, antioxidants like vitamins A and C.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in maintaining or increasing your level of physical activity, finding good sources of vitamin E through food isn’t hard.  Great sources include sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, papaya, olives and blueberries.  Just a handful of blueberries will give you about 10 percent of your daily recommended allotment, which is said to be about 15 mg per day for men and women 14 years of age and older (more for pregnant and lactating females).

Related Posts

  1. Vitamin E and your Physical Decline
  2. “Cloudy” Apple Juice Contains Higher Level of Antioxidant Activity Than “Clear” Juice
  3. Can Vitamin E Prevent Cataracts?
  4. Folic Acid, Vitamin B-12 Play An Essential Role In Brain Function, Study Concludes
  5. Vitamin E Derivative Shown to kill Cancer Cells, Study Finds

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