Servizio Comunitario di Informazione in materia di Ricerca e Sviluppo - CORDIS

Effect of zinc supplementation on physical performance in older European subjects

A reduction of muscular performance with advancing age has been demonstrated in several studied. Zinc (Zn) has been reported to improve the muscular strength, effect due to the participation of Zn in the formation of several enzymes of energy metabolism such as carbon anhydrase and lactate dehydrogenase in intermediary metabolism during exercise. Moreover Zn facilitates the trasduction of food energy in to energy for work and enhances physical performance.

However little is known about the relationship between muscle strength and Zn status. The aims of this part of the ZENITH study were to explore the influence of the Zn supplementation on muscle strength and to evaluate associations between changes in muscle strength, physical performance and spontaneous physical activity in an Italian older population. Hundred eight apparently healthy volunteers 56 men and 52 women, aged 70-85 years were enrolled in Italy. Volunteers were assigned to receive placebo (0mg) or 15mg or 30mg of Zn.

At the beginning, after three and six months of the supplementation grip strength (HG), knee extension, anthropometry, body composition, performance of the lower extremities and physical activity were evaluated. The variables studied at baseline were not significantly different between the supplemented and un-supplemented volunteers. Significant differences between sexes were observed in all parameters (P<0.0001). No differences between sex were observed in mean physical activity level: most of subjects (88% of men and 65% of women) had a sedentary lifestyle. HGmax was significantly correlated with body weight (r=0.61, p<0.0001), and AMA (r=0.52, p<0.0001), the higher correlation was found with FFM (r =0.73, p<0.0001) and Forearm Muscle Area (FMA: r =0.71, p<0.0001).

Moreover improved strength has been associated with improved skeletal muscle mass (r = 0.79, p<0.0001), bone mass (BMC: r= 0.64 P<0.0001; BMD r= 0.48 P<0.0001), performance score (r=0.31 P<0.001) but not with physical activity level. When association with indices of Zn nutritive status was considered, only a moderate positive correlation between muscle strength (as absolute value) and Zn intake (r=0.19, p<0.04) was observed. After six months of Zn supplementation no significant differences were observed in body composition parameters and muscle strength.

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