According to research appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association (January 23, 2008 Volume 299, Issue 3, Pages 308-315) measured nutrients in older individuals and found that low levels of vitamin E were associated with physical decline. The researchers looked at 698 individuals living in Tuscany, averaging 73.7 years of age. A baseline examination was given and the individuals were followed for three years. The Short Physical Performance Battery includes three objective tests for physical function and was used to measure physical performance. The researchers found two things related to physical decline: low vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) levels among people aged between 70 and 80, and being older than 81.

One possible reason for low vitamin E levels being related to physical decline could be increased oxidative stress. Vitamin E is an important antioxidant and protects form oxidative stress. Increased oxidative stress can result in damage to tissue and exacerbation of degenerative disorders.