Can This Vitamin Slow the Aging Process?
Vitamin E supplements, especially when taken with regular exercise, may prevent or delay the ravaging illnesses so common with aging, including heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's, according to research from the University of Florida that was published in the journal Biological Research for Nursing.
This is how it works:
- Vitamin E knocks out free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage healthy cells and lead to the development of some 200 age-related diseases.
- Exercise boosts antioxidant substances that can combat those damaging free radicals.
- Put them together and it's a more powerful combination than either one used alone--and it could be the next best thing to the fountain of youth.
The study: The Florida researchers tested the two anti-aging methods on 59 men and women ages 60 to 75. None exercised regularly. They were divided into four groups:
- Group 1: Exercised twice a week for 60 minutes and took an 800 IU vitamin E supplement.
- Group 2: Exercised twice a week for 60 minutes and took a placebo.
- Group 3: Sedentary and took an 800 IU vitamin E supplement.
- Group 4: Sedentary and took a placebo.
The results: All the participants who took vitamin E--whether they exercised or not--saw a significant reduction in free radicals. In addition, exercise provided its own special protection as it increased the amount of antioxidant substances that would fight the free radicals.
So while group 1, which exercised and took the vitamin E supplements, didn't do any better than group 3, which only took the vitamin E and did not exercise, those who were active also lost weight, lowered their blood sugar and blood pressure, and boosted their exercise capacity. That led researchers to conclude that the best approach to battling the ravages of old age is a combination of moderate exercise and vitamin E.
"The results of this study suggest that people who are over 40 can benefit from regular moderate exercise and vitamin E to protect against the destructive properties of free radicals and their effects on our aging bodies," James Jessup, the study's principal investigator, said in the news release announcing the study findings.
How much vitamin E do you need for full protection? After age 40, you need the equivalent of two heads of spinach--every day. So in this case, supplements are best.