Vitamin E Cuts Colds: Elderly protected when they supplement, research says

While most people pop a vitamin C to keep the common cold away, research shows that vitamin E may also play a role in the fight. In a recent study on nursing home residents, researchers found that those who supplemented with vitamin E were 20% less likely to get a cold and also had fewer colds over the study period than a placebo group.

“Common colds are frequent and associated with increased morbidity in this age group, and if confirmed, these findings suggest important implications for the well-being of the elderly,” write the researchers.

They also found that significantly fewer vitamin E participants acquired one or more upper respiratory tract infections, although the supplements did not impact the incidence or duration of such infections and there was no effect on lower respiratory tract infections.

The study adds to previous studies suggesting that vitamin E could enhance immune system function. Researchers at Tufts University, Boston, reported that vitamin E supplements reduced incidence of self-reported infections in the elderly by 30% over placebo. Those who took 200 IU per day showed the greatest response in that study.

For the present study, participants received a multivitamin capsule with 50% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for essential micronutrients. One group also received 200 IU of vitamin E and the control group received a placebo capsule.

Infections in the elderly can result in decreased daily activity, prolonged recovery times, increased health care service use, and more frequent complications, including death.

NutraIngredients, Aug 18, 2004