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Tufts E-News --Vitamin E: Infection Prevention

Tufts E-News --Vitamin E: Infection PreventionVitaminE supplements may play an important role in preventing colds andother upper respiratory infections, report Tufts researchers ina new study. Boston[08-18-04]

Boston [08.18.04] An annoyance to many, the common cold is often a big health problem for the elderly - resulting in long-term debilitation and even death. But new research from Tufts indicates that vitamin E supplements may be powerful preventative medicine - significantly cutting the risk of colds and other infections among the elderly.

"In the study of 617 nursing home patients aged 65 or older, those who swallowed a vitamin E supplement daily had significantly fewer common colds and had a 20 percent overall lower risk of acquiring a cold, compared to participants given a harmless placebo," reported the international newswire, Reuters.

The research, which was led by Tufts' Dr. Simin Nikbin Meydani and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) - indicated that the supplements appeared to ward off other upper respiratory infections as well.

"Vitamin E might be more effective against upper respiratory infections because most, like the common cold, are caused by viruses," reported ABC News.

That's good news for many elderly people who struggle with colds.

"Infections, particularly respiratory tract infections, are common in elderly individuals, resulting in decreased daily activity, prolonged recovery times, increased health care service use, and more frequent complications, including death," reported Medical News Today.

But the preventative effects of vitamin E aren't limited to the elderly - they appear to have similar results in the general population.

"We did a study with young men where we supplemented them with vitamin E," Meydani - who directs the Nutritional Immunology Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts - told ABC News. "There was a significant improvement [in immune response], but the degree of improvement was not as much as we saw in the elderly. This is understandable because the elderly have a lower immune response to begin with, so vitamin E might be more effective with them."

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