Sarcopenia, or loss of muscle mass and strength, plays a major role in the disablement process in older adults and increases the risk of impaired physical performance, falls, physical disability, frailty, and death. Oxidative stress is a major mechanism implicated in the pathogenesis of sarcopenia; aging muscle shows increased oxidative damage to DNA, protein, and lipids. Carotenoids quench free radicals, reduce damage from reactive oxygen species, and appear to modulate redox-sensitive transcription factors such as NF-κB that are involved in the upregulation of IL-6 and other proinflammatory cytokines. Recent epidemiological studies in community-dwelling older adults show that low serum/plasma carotenoids are independently associated with low skeletal muscle strength and the development of walking disability. These observations are consistent with a growing number of studies showing that a diet with high intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of inflammation, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and mortality. © 2006.
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