Daily Multivitamin Reduces Infections
Vitamins May Help Prevent Infections in Diabetics
Mon March 3, 2003 06:01 PM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, people with diabetes may be able to ward off colds and other minor infections by taking a daily multivitamin.
As reported by Merritt McKinney, in Reuters Health service, taking a vitamin and mineral supplement did not prevent infections in people without diabetes, but the study's lead author did not rule out that some people without diabetes might see a drop in infections if they take a supplement.
"If the benefit seen in diabetics is due to the fact that their nutrition was more marginal, then any population at risk of having marginally inadequate nutrition, such as the elderly in general, might also benefit," Dr. Thomas A. Barringer, of Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, told Reuters Health.
Noting that most of the people in the study were overweight or obese, Barringer said that "if obesity was a factor in why they benefited, then all obese people might benefit."
While forty percent of US adults take some sort of vitamin or mineral supplement on a regular basis, there are few studies providing conclusive scientific evidence showing that supplements actually boost health, according to the reporter.
But some research does suggest that a multivitamin enhances immune function, Barringer noted. The elderly and people with diabetes often do not consume adequate amounts of nutrients and they also have a slightly higher risk of infection, so Barringer's team studied whether a vitamin and mineral supplement would prevent minor infections.
A multivitamin did seem to ward off infections, at least in people with diabetes, the researchers report in the March 4th issue of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. All the diabetic patients had type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease.
Only 17% of diabetics taking a multivitamin reported having an infection, such as an upper respiratory infection, the flu or a gastrointestinal infection, compared with 93% of diabetics who were taking a dummy pill. In addition, 89% of people with diabetes who took a placebo pill reported missing at least one day of work during the one-year study compared with none of the diabetics taking a multivitamin.
The reduction in infections was found almost exclusively in people with diabetes, according to the report. Participants with diabetes were more likely to be deficient in at least one vitamin or mineral at the start of the study, which could explain the beneficial effect of a multivitamin, Barringer's team points out. The researchers are uncertain, however