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Given the key role of Zn in many physiological functions, optimal Zn status could be a predictive parameter of successful ageing. However, the benefit of Zn supplementation is still a matter of debate since Zn supplementation has been reported to be associated with the alteration of Cu status and lipid metabolism. As part of the Zenith Project, the present study aimed to investigate, in free-living healthy European middle-aged and older subjects, the effect of Zn supplementation on the biochemical status of Zn, Fe and Cu and on lipid profile. Volunteers aged 55–70 (n 188) and 70–85 (n 199) years old participated in a double-blinded, randomised study and received a daily placebo, or Zn as 15 or 30 mg for 6 months. Zn supplementation did not significantly modify erythrocyte Zn levels or erythrocyte Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase activity. But Zn supplementation at 15 or 30 mg/d for 6 months increased significantly serum Zn levels and Zn urinary excretion with no major adverse effects on Fe and Cu status or on lipid metabolism. However, Zn supplementation at 30 mg/d showed some age- and sex-dependent alterations in Fe status or lipid profile. Therefore, with respect to the key role of an optimal Zn status in successful ageing, Zn supplementation at 15 mg/d, when necessary, could be safely proposed regarding lipids and the risk of interaction with Fe and Cu.
The SUpplementation en VItamines et Mineraux AntioXydants (SU.VI.MAX) study, a randomised double-blind, primary-prevention trial showed that after 7·5 years, low-dose antioxidant supplementation lowered the total cancer incidence in men, but not in women. To explain this difference in the impact of antioxidant supplementation in men and women, we hypothesised that the effect of supplementation is dependent on initial antioxidant status; 12 741 French adults (7713 females aged 35–60 years; 5028 males aged 45–60 years) received daily antioxidant supplementation (120 mg vitamin C, 30 mg vitamin E, 6 mg β-carotene, 100 μg Se, 20 mg Zn daily) or a matching placebo. Cut-off limits for baseline serum concentrations of the different antioxidant vitamins and minerals were defined as follows for both men and women: 0·3 μmol/l for β-carotene, 11·4 μmol/l for vitamin C, 15 μmol/l for vitamin E, 0·75 μmol/l for Se and 10·7 μmol/l for Zn. The percentage of men with serum concentrations under cut-off limits was higher for vitamins C and E and β-carotene in those who developed a cancer than in those who did not. The risk of cancer was higher in men with baseline concentrations of serum vitamin C or vitamin E under cut-off limits, but not in women. The effect of supplementation was greater in men with baseline serum concentrations of vitamin C, vitamin E and β-carotene below the cut-off limits compared with those above it. This effect was maintained only for vitamin E after adjustment for age, tobacco, and alcohol consumption and BMI. No effect of supplementation could be seen in women. Baseline antioxidant status is related to the risk of cancer in men but not in women and therefore does not entirely explain the differences observed in the effect of antioxidant supplementation on cancer risk between sexes in the SU.VI.MAX study.
A prospective epidemiological study was carried out over 1 year to evaluate vitamin B complex dietary intake and status in Cuba, 2 years after the Cuban neuropathy epidemic of 1993. Of the 199 healthy middle-aged men selected, 141 completed the study. Volunteers were followed up every 3 months for 1 year. Dietary intake and status of thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate and vitamin B12 were assessed each time. The dietary intake of vitamin B complex was low, particularly in June and July (folate), and October (thiamin). A deficient status was observed for vitamin B complex, except for vitamin B6. Vitamin B complex intake and status varied over the year. However, dietary intake and status were poorly related. The results prove that healthy Cuban men represent a vulnerable population in terms of vitamin B complex status and stress the necessity to both promote preventive multivitamin supplementation and produce local food rich in vitamin B complex.
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