The results of a 12 week study conducted by Oregon State University has shown that older adults who took a daily mineral and multivitamin supplement containing Zinc and high amounts of Vitamin C experienced less severe symptoms and shorter periods of sickness when compared to those in a control group who received a placebo.
The research group included 42 healthy adults aged 55 to 75 and was set-up to measure the supplement’s effects on certain immune system indicators. The research team also looked at bloodstream levels of Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc while the participants took the supplement. These particular micronutrients are important for proper immune function. The immune indicators which included white blood cells’ ability to kill incoming pathogensm were unaltered in the group receiving the supplement.
The group who received the multivitamin showed improved Zinc and Vitamin C status in their blood. Interestingly, illness symptoms that were reported by this group were less severe and were shorter lasting than those who were in the placebo group.
The same percentage of participants in both groups reported symptoms, but the number of days in the group who received the supplement averaged fewer than three compared to more than six for the participants in the placebo group.
The team notes that the observed illness differences were striking. And though the study was limited to self-reporting of illness data and the study was not designed to answer this question, the observed differences have suggested that additional larger studies that would be designed for these outcomes are warranted and as the team also notes, long overdue.
As people age, the risk of mineral and vitamin deficiencies that contribute to age related immune system deficiencies increases. Throughout the United States, Europe and Canada, research has suggested that more than one-third of older adults are deficient in at least one micronutrient and often times more than one.
These deficiencies contribute to a decline in a person’s immune system and are most often characterized by increased levels of inflammation in addition to reduced innate immune functions and reduced T-cell function. Because multiple nutrients support the function of the immune system, older adults often benefit from taking mineral and multivitamin supplements. These supplements are readily available, inexpensive and generally regarded as safe.
The multivitamin supplement that was used in this study focused on minerals and vitamins typically believed to help with immunity. It contained 700 micrograms of Vitamin A, 400 international units of Vitamin D, 45 milligrams of Vitamin E, 6.6 milligrams of Vitamin B6, 400 micrograms of folate,
9.6 micrograms of Vitamin B12, 1,000 milligrams of Vitamin C, 5 milligrams of Iron, 0.9 milligrams of Copper, 10 milligrams of Zinc, and 110 micrograms of Selenium.
Supplementation was associated with significant increased circulating levels of both Vitamin C and Zinc and with illness symptoms that were shorter lasting and less severe. These findings support other findings that go back decades, even to the days of Linus Pauling’s research with Vitamin C. The current results from this study suggest more and better designed research studies are needed to further explore the positive role mineral and multivitamin supplementation might play in bolstering the immune system in older adults.
To view the original scientific study click below