Health professionals often associate vitamins and minerals with several health benefits such as the Improve immunity. In a recently carried out, 12-week study with dietary supplements, researchers were able to determine a significant improvement in symptoms in sick subjects. The participants were given supplements that contained a certain amount of minerals, zinc and vitamin C. In addition, the scientists were able to observe that the group that received additives fell ill less than the placebo-treated control group and had milder symptoms.
Vitamins and minerals improve symptoms
The research included 42 healthy people aged 55 to 75 years. It aimed to measure the effects of the supplement on certain indicators of the immune system. While taking the supplement, the research team also checked the levels of zinc, Vitamin D and C in the blood as these micronutrients are important for proper immune function. The indicators of the immune response, including the ability of white blood cells to kill incoming pathogens, were unchanged in the group that received the supplement. The multivitamin group showed an improved status for vitamin C and zinc in the blood. Most fascinatingly, the symptoms of illness reported by this group were less severe and cleared faster than those of the placebo group. The same percentage of participants in each group reported having symptoms. However, the sick days in the supplement group averaged less than three. This compares to more than six in the placebo group.
The observed differences suggest that additional, larger studies designed for these results are warranted. With increasing age, the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies increases, which lead to age-related weakness of the immune system. There is research in the United States, Canada, and Europe that shows more than a third of older adults are deficient in at least one micronutrient, often more than one. This likely contributes to a decline in the immune system. This is most commonly characterized by increased levels of inflammation, decreased innate immune function, and decreased T-cell function. Because multiple nutrients support immune function, older adults often benefit from multivitamin and mineral supplements, according to the study authors. These are readily available, inexpensive, and generally considered safe.
The multivitamin used in the study focused on vitamins and minerals that are normally thought to aid immunity. It contained the following substances:
- 700 Micrograms of Vitamin A
- 400 units of vitamin D.
- 45 milligrams of vitamin E.
- 6.6 milligrams of vitamin B6
- 400 micrograms of folic acid
- 9.6 Micrograms of Vitamin B12
- 1000 milligrams of vitamin C.
- 5 milligrams of iron
- 0.9 milligrams of copper
- 10 milligrams of zinc
- 110 micrograms of selenium
The supplementation was associated with a significantly increased level of zinc and vitamin C in the bloodstream and with less severe and shorter disease symptoms. This supports findings going back decades, even to the days of Linus Pauling’s work with vitamin C. The study results however, also suggest that more and better designed research studies are needed to examine the positive role of multivitamin and mineral supplements in strengthening the immune systems of the elderly.