In a new study, researchers found lower levels of dietary vitamins and antioxidants are linked to frailty in older people.
This is the largest study to date.
The research was conducted by a team from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) at Trinity College Dublin
Frailty is a common chronic syndrome which affects up to 25% of adults over 65 years and over half of the adults over 80.
Frailty is characterized by an overall decline in physical function and a loss of ability to bounce back after experiencing a stressful event such as infection, a fall or surgery.
It is linked to poor health, disability, and death.
In the study, the team examined the association of vitamin B12, folate, vitamin D, lutein and zeaxanthin levels with frailty.
The B vitamins (B12 and folate) are important for several cellular processes throughout the body including DNA repair and energy metabolism.
Vitamin D is essential for bone metabolism, muscle strength, and mood.
Lutein and zeaxanthin have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties important in eye health and brain health.
Low levels of all of these vitamins and antioxidants are common among Irish adults.
The team found lower levels of lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin D were consistently associated with not only frailty but also earlier stages of ‘pre-frailty’ (a subclinical precursor of frailty).
Low levels of B vitamins were linked to pre-frailty.
Furthermore, the accumulation of micronutrient insufficiencies—having low levels of more than one micronutrient—was progressively linked to severity stages of frailty.
The team says lower levels of specific vitamins and antioxidants—and having low levels of more than one micronutrient—is consistently and progressively linked to frailty among adults aged 50 years and over.
The finding may help develop new potential treatments for this common and important health condition.
The lead author of the study is Senior Research Fellow at TILDA, Dr. Aisling O’Halloran.
The study is published in Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.
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