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The prevalence of tissue deficiency of vitamin B12, folate and vitamin B6, as demonstrated by the elevated metabolite concentrations, was found to be substantially higher than that estimated by measuring concentrations of the vitamins (Joosten et al. 1993). 1 mg folate and 5 mg vitamin B6 on serum concentrations of methylmalonic acid, homocysteine, 2-methylcitric acid and cystathionine (metabolic evidence of vitamin deficiency) in 300 elderly people with normal serum vitamin concentrations was compared with that of placebo in 175 elderly subjects living at home and 110 in hospital.

In another trial, 88 healthy people aged 65 years or older were randomised to receive vitamin E (60 IU per day, 200 IU per day or 800 IU per day) or placebo. After 4 months of follow up, those who had taken vitamin E supplements showed significant improvement in the indices of immune response mediated by T cells (Meydani et al. 1997). 1 Contd Constituent Widely thought to be important Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) Probably important, but not necessarily as antioxidants b-Carotene, other carotenoids, related plant pigments Possibly important Flavonoids, other plant phenolics Action(s) Probably assists a-tocopherol in inhibition of lipid peroxidation by recycling the tocopherol radical.

A major interpopulation study has shown a correlation between the average sodium intake and the slope of blood pressure with age, and a negative correlation between potassium intake and blood pressure levels (Intersalt Cooperative Research Group 1988). These findings were confirmed and strengthened by further analysis of the available data from all studies worldwide (Department of Health and Social Security 1992). Clinical studies in which manipulations of dietary sodium and potassium have brought about changes in blood pressure in elderly human subjects provide further evidence that high potassium intake may protect against stroke (Fotherby & Potter 1993).

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