Vitamin use may weaken flu shot's efficacy in elderly

באדיבות מדיקונטקסט
Last Updated: 2001-07-30 10:36:08 EDT (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Older individuals who take multivitamins may not gain full benefit from influenza vaccination, a team of military doctors has found.

"Physicians and patients should be cautious with multivitamin use," principal investigator Dr. Peter T. Ender, of the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Medical Center near Dayton, Ohio, told Reuters Health. "Depending on the combination, they may have harmful rather than beneficial effects."

Among 79 adults age 65 and older, those who took a daily multivitamin for 100 days before flu vaccination showed a poorer immune response 1 month after vaccination compared with those who took placebo. The findings are published in Infectious Diseases in Clinical Practice.

One possible reason for the poor response in multivitamin users, Dr. Ender said, is that the supplement used in this study included vitamins A, B, C, D, E, as well as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate and pantothenic acid, but no trace elements such as zinc. Other recent studies have suggested that multivitamins containing those trace elements do have beneficial effects on the body's immune response.

Dr. Ender concluded, "I would caution people [from] thinking that 'A vitamin can do no harm, so why not take them?'"

Infect Dis Clin Pract 2001:10:81-85.

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