Nutritional supplement may help residents fight flu, study says

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An enriched nutritional supplement increased elderly nursing home residents' resistance to the flu and lowered their risk of needing antibiotics, researchers at the University of Florida found.

One group of nursing home residents aged 65 and older were given an experimental formula, which contained protein, beta carotene, vitamins C and E, zinc, and other nutrients. The other group received a standard liquid nutrition product, EnsurePlus. Study participants got flu shots after taking the supplement for four weeks. They then remained on the supplements for another six weeks after the flu shots.

Nearly half of the residents who received the experimental supplement formula achieved levels of antibodies sufficient to protect them against the flu, compared to 23% of study participants on the standard formula. Abbott Laboratories developed the standard and experimental formulas and also funded the study. The complete study results are in the December issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.