GAINESVILLE -- Contrary to what Juan Ponce de Leon thought when he searched for it in the 16th century, the fountain of youth is made of anti-oxidants, not water, and it's a lot easier to find than the famed explorer thought.
In a study published in this month's American Journal of Physiology, Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, a professor in the University of Florida's College of Health and Human Performance, found that anti-oxidant intervention, which can come from taking vitamin supplements or from a steady routine of exercise, slows parts of the aging process.
"Our most significant finding was that anti-oxidant intervention slows down basal skeletal muscle oxidation, which causes the body to age," said Leeuwenburgh, who did the study with Jay Heinecke, John Holloszy and Polly Hansen of the Washington University School of Medicine. "This is the first evidence of this."
Regular exercise or a diet including plenty of anti-oxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C and beta carotene, all of which fight the tendency of oxygen to slowly break down muscle mass, might protect against the type of tissue and muscle loss that occur as individuals grow older, Leeuwenburgh said.
"When an individual grows old, we all know that the person loses a lot of muscle mass," Leeuwenburgh said. "One of the mechanisms that causes this is increased oxidant production, in a process known as muscle oxidation. Regular exercise or anti-oxidant supplements could potentially improve and protect against this oxidative stress, which may have direct implications on tissue loss and the aging process."
Leeuwenburgh divided rats into two groups, one of which was given an
anti-oxidant diet of beta carotene and vitamins E and C. After 21 months,
the rate of muscle oxidation for the rats in the anti-oxidant groups was
50 percent lower than the rate for the rats in the control group. Some of the
rats that were not fed anti-oxidants were exercised r
Contact: Christiaan Leeuwenburgh
University of Florida