Life Extension Update
Tuesday, August 14, 2012. In an article published online in the Journal of Applied Physiology on June 21, 2012, European researchers report better performance on tests of physical fitness among male and female adolescents who had higher blood levels of several nutrients.
Luis Gracia-Marco of the University of Zaragoza, Spain and his colleagues analyzed data from 1,089 participants in the long-term Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescents Cross-Sectional Study (HELENA-CSS). Blood samples were evaluated for hemoglobin, soluble transferrin receptor and serum ferritin (which reflect iron status), as well as retinol (vitamin A), vitamin C, beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol, vitamin B6, cobalamin and holo-transcobalamin (vitamin B12 assessments), plasma folate, red blood cell folate and vitamin D. Lower body muscle strength was tested via a standing long jump test and cardiovascular fitness was evaluated by assessment of maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) in conjunction with a 20 meter shuttle run test.
Among male participants, higher levels of hemoglobin, beta-carotene, and retinol were significantly associated with increased muscle fitness, and elevations of hemoglobin, retinol and vitamin C were associated with greater cardiorespiratory fitness. For females, higher levels of beta-carotene and vitamin D were associated with both fitness measures. The authors acknowledge the role of iron in carrying oxygen to muscles via hemoglobin, and they note that vitamin D has been demonstrated to affect skeletal function and strength via several mechanisms.
"This is the first study reporting the association between different physical fitness components (i.e. cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular fitness) and a large number of micronutrient biomarkers in a large sample of European adolescents," Dr Gracia-Marco and his associates announce. "The associations between physical fitness and iron or vitamin status observed in this cross-sectional study in adolescents should be followed up by a study specifically designed to evaluate causal relationships."
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