Health Team

Vitamin E Can Be Key to Senior Citizens' Mobility

New research suggests Vitamin E is important for people to keep their mobility and their independence as they age.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Independence and mobility are important to people as they age. New research shows Vitamin E is important to maintaining physical function.

Take Lois Acampora, for example. She is 81 years old. She tries to eat right and walks at least an hour a day, but she has noticed routine tasks are growing more difficult.

“I've noticed how I've slowed down physically and mentally, and I don't like it,” Acampora said.

Good nutrition may be even more important than she first thought.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, low levels of Vitamin E, in particular, appear to contribute to a decline in physical function.

“Our results show that only vitamin E is associated with subsequent decline in physical function,” said Benedetta Bartali, a registered dietitian and Ph.D. at the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn.

Researchers looked at Italian men and women age 65 and older. They compared nutrient levels in each person’s blood with the person’s ability to perform basic skills. such as walking, standing up from a chair and balancing.

Out of nearly 700 people in the study, half experienced a decline in physical function within three years – and the study found low levels of Vitamin E were associated with the problem.

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

Researchers suggest you need at least 15 to 30 milligrams of Vitamin E a day. Almonds, sunflower seeds and olive oil are all good sources

Acampora said she is going to make sure she gets more Vitamin E “because it's very important to me.”

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