Older people who take daily multivitamin and mineral supplements are able to recover quicker from illnesses, according to a new study.
Researchers from Oregon State University discovered that vitamin tablets which contain zinc and high amounts of vitamin C were sick for shorter periods, and experienced less severe symptoms, compared to those who did not take the supplements.
Scientists analysed data from more than 40 participants, aged from 55 to 75, and looked at the levels of zinc and vitamins C and D – important for immune function – in the bloodstream.
The supplement contained 700 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin A; 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D; 45 milligrams (mg) of vitamin E; 6.6mg of vitamin B6; 400mcg of folate; 9.6mcg of vitamin B12; 1,000mg of vitamin C; 5mg of iron; 0.9mg of copper; 10mg of zinc; and 110mcg of selenium.
Those taking the multivitamin over the 12-week study showed improved vitamin C and zinc levels in the blood and reported less severe illness symptoms.
Days of sickness averaged three days, compared to more than six in the group who were taking a placebo.
Professor Adrian Gombart said while the differences were “striking”, it highlighted just how many older people are lacking in nutrients that could help them recover from illnesses much quicker.