Author: Laurie Barclay, MD
Source: Ann Intern Med. 2003;138:365-371, 430-431
Taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement reduced infection and absenteeism related to infection, according to the results of a randomized, double-blind trial reported in the Mar. 4 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. Because the effect was most evident in subjects with type 2 diabetes, the investigators and editorialists suggest that this intervention would be useful for all those with subclinical micronutrient malnutrition.
“Various degrees of malnutrition, even of individual micronutrients, are known to markedly impair immune function,” write Thomas A. Barringer, MD, from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Charlotte, and colleagues. “The extent to which subtle deficiencies of various micronutrients contribute to clinically significant infections is unclear.”
The study sample consisted of 130 community-dwelling adults stratified by age and presence of type 2 diabetes mellitus. After one year, infectious illness was reported in 73% of those receiving placebo and in 43% of those receiving daily Multivitamin/mineral. Infection-related absenteeism affected 57% of the placebo group and 21% of the Multivitamin/mineral. Subjects with type 2 diabetes accounted for this finding. Among diabetics, infectious illness occurred in 93% of those receiving placebo and in only 17% of those receiving the Multivitamin/mineral.
“Multivitamin/mineral supplements are convenient and relatively inexpensive,” the authors write. “If our results are confirmed in a larger trial, the widespread implementation of this preventive measure could have a substantial economic impact and could ease the burden of suffering in our society.”