1997 Volume 43 Issue 1 Pages 73-81
For the maintenance of good health of very old people such as centenarians, nutrition is very important. However, the information on their nutritional status is very limited. In this study, we evaluated the nutritional status of centenarians by comparison with elderly in their 70s and ;young adults. Volunteer subjects were comprised of 71 centenarians (51 females, 20 males) who were not bed ridden, 84 elderly in their 70s (51 females, 33 males) who had no specific health problems and 27 healthy young adults in their 20s (17 females, 10 males). We compared 11 'items 'of the activities of daily living (ADL), height, weight, hemato-logical (hemoglobin, hematocrit and red blood cell count) and biochem-ical [total protein, albumin, total-, HDL-, LDL- and VLDL-cholesterols, triglycerides, glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase (GOT), glutamate pyruvate transaminase (GPT) and creatinine] variables among the three age groups. Since the atrophy of muscle is more severe than the atrophies of other tissues in the elderly, we studied the muscle protein breakdown using plasma 3-methylhistidine (3-MH) as a marker. The results of all indices except serum lipids, GOT and GPT, were lower in the centenari-ans than in the subjects in their 20s (p<0.05) and were lower than the lower reference limits. Most of the results of the elderly in their 70 s were within the reference intervals. However, as compared to the young subjects, they had: 1) normal ADL; 2) shorter height; 3) heavier weight in females and lighter weight in males; 4) lower total protein and albumin levels and albumin/globulin (A/G) ratios; and 5) higher total- and LDL-cholesterol levels in females and HDL-cholesterol levels in males (p<0.05). The plasma 3-MH concentration was higher in the centenarian group than in the young and elderly groups (p <0.05). However, serum creatinine concentrations also tended to be high in the group, suggesting that a high 3-MH concentration did not indicate accelerated muscle protein breakdown but rather poor kidney functions. The results of this study show that the centenarians had shrunken stature, low hematological values and poor protein nutrition but rather normal lipid nutrition, however the elderly subjects in their 70s could still maintain most nutri-tional parameters in relatively normal condition.