Science Update

New Study Demonstrates Multivitamin and Mineral Supplementation May Reduce Illness Duration and Severity in Older Adults

Most nutritionists and healthcare providers would agree that eating a balanced diet containing nutrient-dense foods is the best way for individuals to obtain required nutrients. However, many individuals consume a less-than-perfect diet high in calories and short on nutrients. Therefore, most adults do not obtain adequate vitamin and mineral intakes for optimal health. Also, many older patients with chronic conditions require higher nutrient intake to meet their metabolic demands, and the medications for these conditions contribute to nutritional deficiencies.

 According to a study published 2 weeks ago in Nutrients, researchers investigated the effects of a multivitamin and mineral supplement on immune function in healthy older adults. Many nutrients play an essential role in the immune system such as zinc and vitamins A, C, and D.

 A two-arm, parallel, double-blind randomized control trial at a single center consisted of 42 healthy adults between the ages of 55 and 75 years. All participants were provided with either a placebo or a multivitamin and mineral supplement to be taken daily for a 12-week period. Assessments consisted of height, weight, body mass index, blood pressure, and heart rate. Laboratory assessment included blood tests for vitamin and mineral status, as well as markers for immune function and status. A self-reported health status was also collected. As a result, supplementation with a multivitamin and mineral formulation improved vitamin C and zinc status, as well as the self-reported health statuses. Vitamin C levels increased 126% and zinc increased 43% in the supplement group, with no change in the placebo group. No statistically significant change was found in immune outcomes. However, there was a significant decrease in the reported length and severity of illnesses with those who took the multivitamin and mineral supplement compared to the placebo.

 Research demonstrates that multivitamin and mineral supplements can improve overall health and help lower chronic disease risks. Micronutrients maintain normal cell function and metabolism. Most individuals take a multivitamin to cover all their bases and to reduce their health risks of chronic diseases. Unfortunately, many patients are taking products that may have good manufacturing practices, but oftentimes, as indicated by the label, many of these products contain ingredients in their formulations that are difficult for the body to absorb. These products are also recommended in a single pill per day formula, which does not efficaciously support optimal metabolic function.

 Everyone needs to optimize their nutrient status based on testing. A multivitamin and mineral supplement is a good foundation for this goal, but many products do not meet all guidelines for dietary intake, and the ingredients are often much lower than what is required for optimal health. Patients should consult with their nutritionists or health-care practitioners to determine their best options.


By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS


Source: Fantacone M, Lowry M, et al. The effect of a multivitamin and mineral supplementon immune function in healthy older adults: a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial. Nutrients. 2020;12(8):2447.doi:10.3390/nu12082447.