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Low Micronutrient Levels Tied to Frailty in Older Adults

Low micronutrient status has potential to be a modifiable target for preventing frailty

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THURSDAY, Aug. 29, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Low levels of certain micronutrients are associated with measures of prefrailty and frailty in older adults, according to a study published online Aug. 7 in the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.

Aisling M. O'Halloran, Ph.D., from Trinity College in Dublin, and colleagues evaluated the association between three frailty instruments (the Frailty Phenotype, the Frailty Index, and the FRAIL Scale) and circulating micronutrients (lutein, zeaxanthin, folate, vitamin B-12, and vitamin D) in a large representative sample of 4,068 adults (age ≥50 years) living in the community in Ireland.

The researchers found that when adjusting for age, sex, and educational attainment, all three measures of frailty were associated with lower levels of lutein (relative risk ratios [RRRs], 0.43 to 0.63), zeaxanthin (RRRs, 0.49 to 0.63), and vitamin D (RRRs, 0.51 to 0.75). Additionally, an association was noted between frailty and the accumulation of micronutrient insufficiencies (RRRs, 1.42 to 1.90). With further adjustment for social, lifestyle, health, and seasonal factors, the frailty associations persisted. Similar but weaker associations were seen for all measures of prefrailty for lutein, vitamin D, and number of micronutrient insufficiencies.

"Our data suggest that low micronutrient status has potential as an easily modifiable marker and intervention target for frailty and supports further investigation into micronutrient supplementation and fortification to prevent frailty and disability among older adults," the authors write.

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