Antioxidants and physical performance in elderly persons: The Invecchiare in Chianti (InCHIANTI) study

Matteo Cesari*, Marco Pahor, Benedetta Bartali, Antonio Cherubini, Brenda W.J.H. Penninx, G. Rhys Williams, Hal Atkinson, Antonio Martin, Jack M. Guralnik, Luigi Ferrucci

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Muscle strength and physical performance in old age might be related to the oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Objective: The objective was to assess the correlation of plasma concentrations and daily dietary intakes of antioxidants with skeletal muscle strength and physical performance in elderly persons. Design: This study is part of the Invecchiare in Chianti (InCHI-ANTI) study, which was conducted in 986 Italians aged ≥65 y. Physical performance was assessed on the basis of walking speed, ability to rise from a chair, and standing balance. Knee extension strength was assessed with a hand-held dynamometer. The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) questionnaire was used to evaluate the daily dietary intakes of vitamin C, vitamin E, β-carotene, and retinol. Plasma α-and γ-tocopherol concentrations were measured. Adjusted linear regression analyses were used to calculate regression coefficients per SD increase in plasma concentrations and daily dietary intakes. Results: In adjusted analyses, plasma α-tocopherol was significantly correlated with knee extension (β = 0.566, P = 0.003) and the summary physical performance score (β = 0.044, P = 0.008). Plasma γ-tocopherol was associated only with knee extension strength (β = 0.327, P = 0.04). Of the daily dietary intake measures, vitamin C and β-carotene were significantly correlated with knee extension strength, and vitamin C was significantly associated with physical performance (β = 0.029, P = 0.04). Conclusions: Plasma antioxidant concentrations correlate positively with physical performance and strength. Higher dietary intakes of most antioxidants, especially vitamin C, appear to be associated with higher skeletal muscular strength in elderly persons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-294
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2004
Externally publishedYes

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