Context: Caloric restriction (CR) retards aging in mammals. It has been hypothesized that a reduction in T(3) hormone may increase life span by conserving energy and reducing free-radical production.
Objective: The objective of the study was to assess the relationship between long-term CR with adequate protein and micronutrient intake on thyroid function in healthy lean weight-stable adult men and women.
Design, setting, and participants: In this study, serum thyroid hormones were evaluated in 28 men and women (mean age, 52 +/- 12 yr) consuming a CR diet for 3-15 yr (6 +/- 3 yr), 28 age- and sex-matched sedentary (WD), and 28 body fat-matched exercising (EX) subjects who were eating Western diets.
Main outcome measures: Serum total and free T(4), total and free T(3), reverse T(3), and TSH concentrations were the main outcome measures.
Results: Energy intake was lower in the CR group (1779 +/- 355 kcal/d) than the WD (2433 +/- 502 kcal/d) and EX (2811 +/- 711 kcal/d) groups (P < 0.001). Serum T(3) concentration was lower in the CR group than the WD and EX groups (73.6 +/- 22 vs. 91.0 +/- 13 vs. 94.3 +/- 17 ng/dl, respectively) (P < or = 0.001), whereas serum total and free T(4), reverse T(3), and TSH concentrations were similar among groups.
Conclusions: Long-term CR with adequate protein and micronutrient intake in lean and weight-stable healthy humans is associated with a sustained reduction in serum T(3) concentration, similar to that found in CR rodents and monkeys. This effect is likely due to CR itself, rather than to a decrease in body fat mass, and could be involved in slowing the rate of aging.