Original Article | Published:

Nutrition Epidemiology Highlights Original Article

Polyunsaturated fatty acids in relation to incident mobility disability and decline in gait speed; the Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility-Reykjavik Study

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition volume 69, pages 489493 (2015) | Download Citation

Abstract

Background/Objectives:

Low intake of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are associated with physical disability; however, prospective studies of circulating PUFAs are scarce. We examined associations between plasma phospholipid n−3 and n−6 PUFAs with risk of incident mobility disability and gait speed decline.

Subjects/Methods:

Data are from a subgroup of the Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility–Reykjavik Study, a population-based study of risk factors for disease and disability in old age. In this subgroup (n=556, mean age 75.1±5.0 years, 47.5% men), plasma phospholipid PUFAs were assessed at baseline using gas chromatography. Mobility disability and usual gait speed were assessed at baseline and after 5.2±0.2 years. Mobility disability was defined as the following: having much difficulty, or being unable to walk 500 m or climb up 10 steps; decline in gait speed was defined as change 0.10 m/s. Logistic regression analyses were performed to determine associations between sex-specific s.d. increments in PUFAs with risk of incident mobility disability and gait speed decline. Odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) adjusted for demographics, follow-up time, risk factors and serum vitamin D were reported.

Results:

In women, but not men, every s.d. increment increase of total n−3 PUFAs and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) was associated with lower mobility disability risk, odds ratio 0.48 (0.25; 0.93) and odds ratio 0.45 (0.24; 0.83), respectively. There was no association between n−6 PUFAs and the risk of incident mobility disability or gait speed decline.

Conclusions:

Higher concentrations of n−3 PUFAs and, particularly, DHA may protect women from impaired mobility but does not appear to have such an effect in men.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank the study participants and the Icelandic Heart Association clinic staff for their contribution. This Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility-Reykjavik Study has been funded by the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, NIH contract N01-AG012100, the National Institute on Aging Intramural Research Program and the National Eye Institute (ZIAEY00401), with contributions from National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Hjartavernd (the Icelandic Heart Association) and the Althingi (the Icelandic Parliament). We also acknowledge Pho Diep for technical assistance with the fatty acid analyses. RAM holds a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Laboratory of Epidemiology and Population Sciences, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA

    • I Reinders
    • , R A Murphy
    • , M E Garcia
    • , L J Launer
    •  & T B Harris
  2. Department of Health Sciences and the EMGO+ Institute for Health and Care Research, VU UniversityAmsterdam, The Netherlands

    • I Reinders
    • , M Visser
    •  & I A Brouwer
  3. Biomarker Laboratory, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA

    • X Song
  4. Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Internal Medicine, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    • M Visser
  5. Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA

    • M F Cotch
  6. Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA

    • T F Lang
  7. Icelandic Heart Association Research Institute, Kopavogur, Iceland

    • K Siggeirsdottir
    • , G Eiriksdottir
    •  & V Gudnason
  8. Department of Geriatrics, Landspitali National University Hospital and Faculty of Medicine, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland

    • P V Jonsson
  9. Faculty of Medicine, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland

    • V Gudnason

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Competing interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to I Reinders.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/ejcn.2014.277

Supplementary Information accompanies this paper on European Journal of Clinical Nutrition website (http://www.nature.com/ejcn)

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