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In search of a vitamin Fountain of Youth.

Published: June 24 2008

In search of a vitamin Fountain of Youth

James Jessup

Associate Professor of Adult & Elderly Nursing
College of Nursing

While explorers have searched for the legendary Fountain of Youth for thousands of years, University of Florida researcher on aging Jim Jessup thinks that a combination of exercise and vitamins may be a more practical way to slow the aging process.

An associate professor in UF’s College of Nursing, Jessup has spent much of his career studying how exercise and vitamins can help people fight signs of aging like free radical damage and osteoporosis.

He recently completed a research study exploring the effects of a combination of exercise and vitamin E on free-radical-induced damage and found that the combination of exercise and vitamin E produces more antioxidants in the body—helping seniors ward off free-radical damage. Free radicals are molecules produced in the human body as a result of stress and everyday wear-and-tear.

In a previous pilot study for the UF Biobehavioral Research Center, Jessup studied postmenopausal women who were not taking hormone replacement therapy and found that those who participated in a regular exercise regimen that included weight training and took vitamin D and calcium showed significant improvements in bone density, strength and balance.

Both studies have resulted in dozens of consumer requests and scholarly inquiries from around the world for information on the exercise regimens and vitamin combinations used in Jessup’s studies. Even NASA has contacted Jessup for a possible collaboration to study the effects of space on the bone density of astronauts. The recognition is nice, Jessup said, but what he finds gratifying is those aging people who are inspired to exercise and take better control of their health.

“Bone strength and good cardiovascular health is like a bank account—if you invest in an active lifestyle when you are young, you will end up with improved posture and bone density when you are older, greatly improving the quality of your life,” Jessup said.

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