Vitamin E could be the 'X factor' in determining how long and well we live. People with low levels of the nutrient decline more rapidly, researchers have found.
In a study of 698 men and women aged over 65, those with low serum levels of vitamin E showed a decline in physical abilities over a three-year period compared with those with higher levels.
It was the only vitamin that seemed to make a difference to physical decline. Lower levels of folate, vitamin D, iron or the B vitamins didn't affect physical ability.
Researchers believe that the vitamin, an antioxidant, prevents damage to our DNA, muscles and neurones.
Vitamin E is found in nuts, seeds, and corn and olive oil.
(Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2008; 299: 308-15).