A new research study conducted by scientists from Italy, as well as Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (Baltimore) has found that low blood levels of selenium could double the risk of weaker muscles in the elderly.
This study was published in this month's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Aug. 2007), where researchers from the Tuscany Regional Agency, (Italy), Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Azienda Sanitaria Firenze, (Italy), and the National Institute on Aging, report that people with the lowest blood levels of the mineral were 94 per cent more likely to have poor knee and grip strength (in comparison to those with the highest selenium blood levels).
"To our knowledge, this is the first study to show an association between plasma selenium concentrations and poor muscle strength in older adults," wrote the researchers, who stopped short of recommending selenium supplementation until they have done more research.
In this study, plasma selenium levels were measured in a cross-section of subjects from two towns in the Chianti area of Italy. These tests measured the strength of the hip, grip, and knee of 891 elderly men and women above the age of 65.
After adjusting the results for potential confounding factors, such as age, sex, total energy intake, and BMI, the researchers report that people with the lowest plasma concentrations were 69, 94 and 94 per cent more likely to have poor hip, knee, and grip strength, compared to those with the highest selenium levels.