Vitamin E, hunting styles, and depression in the elderly.

In a study of 698 adults 65 and older, School of Medicine geriatrics researcher Benedetta Bartali and colleagues found that low levels of vitamin E were associated with subsequent declines in physical functioning. (Low levels of iron, folic acid, and vitamins B6, B12, and D did not show this association.) However, Bartali did not recommend supplements, since getting enough vitamin E through diet alone is relatively easy; sources include almonds, tomato sauce, and sunflower seeds. The report is in the January 23 Journal of the American Medical Association.

The way a predator hunts determines the way its prey behaves.
In the February 15 issue of Science, environment school ecologist Oswald J. Schmitz showed that hunting style can also affect the diversity, production, and nutrient cycling of plant species. Schmitz studied experimental plots stocked with grasses and herbs, grasshoppers, and two kinds of spiders: a sit-and-wait hunter, and an active hunter. In a study with important implications for wildlife conservation strategies, hunting styles were shown to have opposite indirect impacts on the plant community: plant diversity increased in the plots with sit-and-wait spiders, but decreased with the active hunters.

Among the elderly, depression is more likely to affect -- and persist in -- women
than men, according to research by School of Public Health research scientist Lisa C. Barry and her colleagues. In 1998, the team began studying 754 individuals, age 70 or older, who lived in New Haven. The researchers surveyed this group at 18-month intervals until 2005. (Some of the subjects died during the study period.) Depressed women substantially outnumbered men at each sampling interval, and far more women became and remained depressed. The study appears in the February Archives of General Psychiatry. 

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