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Vitamin C may help 'juice up' metabolism in older adults, offsetting weight gain

A new University of Colorado at Boulder study indicates older adults may be able to combat oxidative stress in their cells that may damage tissues and interfere with normal physiological functions by loading up on vitamin C.

Although virtually all living things on Earth need oxygen to exist, oxygen can combine with other molecules to form toxic oxygen free radicals, said CU-Boulder Research Associate Christopher Bell of the kinesiology and applied physiology department. When oxygen mixes with the wrong crowd, it also can be our enemy.

Destructive molecules have been to shown to buddy-up with oxygen in the human body, resulting in oxidative stress, he said. As we grow older, the effects of oxidative stress become greater. Some scientists believe that by destroying tissue, increased oxidative stress may contribute to many age-related ailments of older people, said Bell.

A team of CU-Boulder researchers now believes oxidative stress may have played a part in previous observations of reduced resting metabolism in older adults.

In 1998 and 2001, a group led by Assistant Research Professor Pamela Parker Jones of the kinesiology and applied physiology department published papers showing that older adults burn fewer calories at rest than their younger counterparts. This was an important finding, said Bell, demonstrating that more calories are available to turn into fat in older adults.

In 2001, Jones group also published a follow-up study showing that the lower metabolic rate in older adults is due in part to a decreased ability of the nervous system to support resting metabolism. Jones group believes this decline in neural support of resting metabolism with age may be related to increased oxidative stress.

In a new study, Bell is trying to remove the influence of oxidative stress in older adults to find out if resting metabolism will be increased.

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Contact: Christopher Bell
christopher.bell@colorado.edu
303-492-4568
University of Colorado at Boulder
4-Apr-2002


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