Good Nutrition Vital for Preventing Disability in Older Women

November 28, 2006

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Poor nutrition may lead to increased disability among older community-dwelling women, researchers here said.

ITHACA, N.Y., Nov. 28 -- Poor nutrition may lead to increased disability among older community-dwelling women, researchers here said.

Women ages 65 and older who had the lowest serum levels of vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and selenium were most likely to lose the ability to perform activities of daily living, reported Benedetta Bartali, R.D., of Cornell University, and colleagues in the Nov. 27 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Their study examined baseline serum nutrient levels collected for 643 community-dwelling women in the larger Women's Health and Aging Study. Development of disability, defined as self-reported difficulty in managing two or more activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, using the toilet, getting in or out of bed or a chair, and eating), was monitored at six month intervals through 36 months of follow-up.

Those with the lowest serum concentrations of vitamin B6 (hazard ratio 1.31, 95% confidence interval 1.03 to1.67), vitamin B12 (HR 1.40, 95% CI 1.12 to 1.74), and selenium (HR 1.38, 95% CI 1.12 to 1.71) had significantly higher risk of disability than those in the upper three quartiles.

Baseline serum selenium (hazard ratio 1.47, 95% confidence interval 1.19 to 1.83, P