Background: Maintenance of high physical performance during aging might be supported by an adequate dietary intake of niacin, vitamins B-6 and B-12, and folate because these B vitamins are involved in multiple processes related to muscle functioning. However, not much is known about the association between dietary intake of these B vitamins and physical performance.
Objectives: The objectives of this study were to investigate the association between dietary intake of niacin, vitamins B-6 and B-12, and folate and physical performance in older adults and to explore mediation by niacin status and homocysteine concentrations.
Methods: We used baseline data from the New Dietary Strategies Addressing the Specific Needs of the Elderly Population for Healthy Aging in Europe (NU-AGE) trial, which included n = 1249 healthy older adults (aged 65-79 y) with complete data on dietary intake measured with 7-d food records and questionnaires on vitamin supplement use and physical performance measured with the short physical performance battery and handgrip dynamometry. Associations were assessed by adjusted linear mixed models.
Results: Intake of vitamin B-6 was related to lower chair rise test time [beta: -0.033 +/- 0.016 s (log); P = 0.043]. Vitamin B-6 intake was also significantly associated with handgrip strength, but for this association, a significant interaction effect between vitamin B-6 intake and physical activity level was found. In participants with the lowest level of physical activity, higher intake of vitamin B-6 tended to be associated with greater handgrip strength (beta: 1.5 +/- 0.8 kg; P = 0.051), whereas in participants in the highest quartile of physical activity, higher intake was associated with lower handgrip strength (beta: -1.4 +/- 0.7 kg; P = 0.041). No evidence was found for an association between intake of niacin, vitamin B-12, or folate and physical performance or for mediation by niacin status or homocysteine concentrations.
Conclusions: Vitamin B-6 intake was associated with better chair rise test time in a population of European healthy older adults and also with greater handgrip strength in participants with low physical activity only. Homocysteine concentrations did not mediate these associations.