Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Iron, Vitamins Could Affect Physical Fitness in Adolescents

Adolescence is an important time not only for growing but for acquiring healthy habits that will last a lifetime, such as choosing foods rich in vitamins and minerals, and adopting a regular exercise regimen.

Unfortunately, several studies have shown that adolescents’ intake of important nutrients, as well as their performance on standard physical fitness tests, has fallen in recent years. Because nutrition and fitness are intertwined—for example, iron forms part of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to muscles, and antioxidants such as vitamin C aid in rebuilding damage after intense training—these two findings could be related.

In a new study, researchers have found that adolescents’ blood levels of various micronutrients are correlated with how well they performed in certain physical fitness tests. Though these results don’t prove causality, they suggest a new relationship between different measures of adolescent health.

The article is entitled “Iron and Vitamin Status Biomarkers and its Association with Physical Fitness in Adolescents. The HELENA Study.” and is online at It appears in the online edition of the Journal of Applied Physiology, a publication of the American Physiological Society.

Researcher Luis Gracia-Marco of the University of Zaragoza, Spain and his colleagues relied on data from a larger, long-term research project known as the Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescents Cross-Sectional Study, or HELENA-CSS. Part of this study, which involved thousands of volunteers between the ages of 12.5 and 17.5 in cities scattered across Europe, gathered nutrition and physical fitness data. Blood samples taken in one third of the volunteers (n=1089) were tested for a variety of micronutrients, including hemoglobin, indicative of iron intake, soluble transferrin receptor, serum ferritin, retinol, vitamin C, beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol, vitamin B6, cobalamin, holo-transcobalamin, plasma folate, RCB folate and vitamin D. The volunteers’ physical fitness was also assessed through a standing long jump test, which assesses lower-body muscular strength, and a 20 meter shuttle run test, which assesses cardiovascular fitness through maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max). When looking for correlations between the micronutrient levels and physical fitness, they took into account the adolescents’ age, time of year, latitude of the city they lived in, body mass index, age of menarche in females, and amount of regular physical activity (using accelerometers).
The researchers found that blood levels of certain micronutrients were intimately connected with the volunteers’ performance on the physical fitness tests. For cardiorespiratory fitness, concentrations of hemoglobin, retinol, and vitamin C in males and beta-carotene and vitamin D in females was associated with VO2max. For muscular fitness, concentrations of hemoglobin, beta-carotene, retinol, and alpha-tocopherol in males and beta-carotene and vitamin D in females was associated with performing better on the standing long jump test.
Importance of the Findings
The authors suggest that studies connecting micronutrients, such as the ones they measured, with physical fitness in any population has been controversial and limited. This is especially true for adolescents, a group that’s often difficult to gather information on. This new study, they say, is one of the first to find connections between micronutrients and physical fitness in this age group, with the strength of controlling the results for a complete set of relevant confounders. Yet, they note that more research still needs to be done.

“The associations between physical fitness and iron or vitamin status observed in this cross-sectional study in adolescents should be followed up by a study specifically designed to evaluate causal relationships,” the authors write.

Research Team
In addition to Luis Gracia-Marco, the study team also includes Faustino R. Perez-Lopez, German Vicente-Rodriguez, and Luis A. Moreno, University of Zaragoza, Spain; Jara Valtuena and Marcela Gonzalez-Gross, Technical University of Madrid, Spain; Francisco B. Ortega, Karolinska Institute, Sweden; Christina Breidenassel and Peter Stehle, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms Universitat, Germany; Marika Ferrari and Giuseppe Maiani, National Research Institute on Food and Nutrition, Italy; Denes Molnar, University of Pecs, Hungary; Kurt Widhalm, Medical University of Vienna, Austria; Stefaan de Henauw, Ghent University, Belgium; Anthony Kafatos, University of Crete, Greece; Ligia E. Diaz, CSIC Madrid, Spain; Frederic Gottrand, University of Lille 2, France; and Manuel Castillo, University of Granada, Spain.
Primary funding for the study was received from the Spanish Ministry of Health, Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, and the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation. Support for the HELENA Study was received through grants from the European Community Sixth TRD Framework Programme.

NOTE TO EDITORS: The article is available online at For additional information, or to schedule an interview with a member of the research team, please contact Donna Krupa at, @Phyziochick, or 301.634.7209.

Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function to create health or disease. The American Physiological Society (APS; has been an integral part of the discovery process for 125 years. To keep up with the science, follow @Phyziochick on Twitter.

Donna Krupa | Newswise Science News
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

nachricht New potential cancer treatment using microwaves to target deep tumors
12.10.2016 | University of Texas at Arlington

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>