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April 30, 2010

Vitamin D status associated with physical function in older men and women

Vitamin D status associated with physical function in older men and women

Information presented on April 25, 2010 as part of the scientific program of the American Society for Nutrition at the Experimental Biology 2010 meeting in Anaheim, California, revealed the discovery of an association between higher vitamin D levels and improved physical functioning among older individuals. Physical function contributes significantly to quality of life, an important consideration in the quest for extended life spans.

Dr Denise Houston of Wake Forest University's Sticht Center on Aging and her colleagues analyzed data from 2,788 healthy participants in the Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) study, which was designed to evaluate associations between body composition, long-term health conditions and mobility in older individuals. The subjects, who resided in Memphis and Pittsburgh, had an average age of 74.7 years. Blood samples obtained upon enrollment were analyzed for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels. Lower extremity function, as assessed by tests of walking, balance, endurance and strength, was evaluated at the beginning of the study and at two and four years.

Over 90 percent of the study population was found to consume less vitamin D than the current recommendation. Although physical function decreased on average among all participants over the follow-up period, those who had high vitamin D levels at 75 nanomoles per liter or more at the beginning of the study retained better function, with improved physical performance scores and gait speed across all three time points compared to those whose levels were lowest at less than 50 nanomoles per liter.

The study is one of only a few to examine the longitudinal relationship between vitamin D levels and physical function. "Current dietary recommendations are based primarily on vitamin D's effects on bone health," Dr Houston remarked. "It is possible that higher amounts of vitamin D are needed for the preservation of muscle strength and physical function as well as other health conditions. However, clinical trials are needed to definitively determine whether increasing 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations through diet or supplements has an effect on these non-traditional outcomes."

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Getting the most from exercise

As humans age, our muscles atrophy and weaken (a condition termed sarcopenia), regardless of exercise regimen or lifestyle (Bross R et al 1999). The muscles become smaller and less elastic, and muscle injuries become more common (Bross R et al 1999; Baumgartner RN et al 1998). The ability to recover from injuries also decreases, as does tolerance for exercise.

Our senior years are a good time to exercise. Exercise by older people improves quality of life. Sarcopenia, even in severe cases, can be reversed through strength training (Aniansson A et al 1981; Frontera WR et al 1992). Exercise has also been shown to control body weight (very important in preventing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension) and strengthen bones. It is important for older people to engage in regular, low to moderate exercise rather than strenuous activity (Martini FH 1995).

A number of supplements have been shown to promote strength by supporting muscle function. These include the following:

  • Creatine
  • Carnitine—1000 to 2000 milligrams (mg) daily
  • Carnosine—1500 to 3000 mg daily
  • Branched-chain amino acids—containing at least 1200 mg L-leucine, 600 mg L-isoleucine, and 600 mg L-valine
  • Glutamine—500 to 1000 mg daily
  • Whey protein—Consider using 20 to 80 grams (g) whey protein daily. It is most important to consume whey protein before and immediately after your exercise session to make sure adequate protein is available to depleted muscles.
  • PPC—900 to 1800 mg

Innovative doctors and health practitioners

The directory of Innovative Doctors and Health Practitioners is a worldwide listing of anti-aging doctors and other medical professionals who practice or have expressed interest in all aspects of preventive medicine (such as heart attack and stroke prevention), hormone replacement therapy, nutrition and dietary supplements, and other areas of alternative and complementary medicine. Invariably, they welcome individuals who choose to be involved in their own health care.

Provided to you by the Life Extension Foundation, The directory of Innovative Doctors and Health Practitioners facilitates the location of anti-aging doctors and health practitioners who are open to alternatives to allopathic medicine. Conveniently organized geographically, the listing can be used to find a doctor by area—a handy feature for those who are traveling or are simply seeking out anti-aging doctors or health practitioners at home. The directory of Innovative Doctors and Health Practitioners is especially useful for those on a life extension program that includes the use of dietary supplements and hormones, as the listed physicians and health practitioners would likely be more suited to evaluate such a program than more conventional doctors.

While prevention, nutrition and longevity are important to the physicians and health practitioners listed, each of them has their own approach to health and wellness. So be sure to clarify the reason for your visit, as well as your goals in seeking out such treatment when scheduling your appointment.

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