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The VUB research group Frailty in Ageing, led by Prof Ivan Bautmans, investigated, as part of the European PROVIDE study, the effects of food supplements on the immune system. For 13 weeks, 380 elderly people with reduced mobility were given either dietary supplements containing vitamin D and leucine-enriched proteins, or a placebo. The main finding of the study is that the chronic inflammatory profile increased in those older people who received a placebo. The dietary supplement with vitamin D and leucine was able to prevent this increase. The results were published in the scientific journal Aging Clinical and Experimental Research.
One of the characteristics of ageing is the occurrence of chronic low-grade inflammation. This slight but chronic increase in inflammatory substances in the bloodstream is caused by ageing processes in the immune system, an increase in fat mass and a sedentary lifestyle. Chronic low-grade inflammation accelerates the occurrence of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoarthritis, etc.
Chronic low-grade inflammation also has an influence on muscle strength and mass and increases the vulnerability of older people, thus reducing their independence. Preventing or curing chronic low-grade inflammation therefore contributes to healthy ageing.
The European PROVIDE study investigates the effects of dietary supplements containing vitamin D and proteins in elderly people with reduced mobility. Older people often lack vitamin D and proteins. Vitamin D can be found in fish, but it is also produced after exposure to UV sun exposure. In the winter, when there is little natural sunlight, a vitamin D supplement is often recommended. Proteins can be found in milk products, eggs, chicken white or legumes. The PROVIDE study has already shown, among other things, that the administration of vitamin D and protein supplements has a positive effect on muscle mass in older people.