Study: Vitamin E stymies colds in nursing home residents

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Nursing home residents who take vitamin E daily are less likely to develop upper respiratory infections, like the common cold, according to a study in the Aug. 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Simin Nikbin Meydani, lead author of the study and a professor of nutrition and immunology at Tufts University, said, "Our study indicates that elderly people who take this level of vitamin E can reduce their chance of obtaining respiratory infections, particularly upper respiratory infections."
Respiratory infections can spread quickly in nursing homes.

Researchers studied 617 persons aged 65 and older living in 33 long-term care facilities in the Boston area taking either 200 international units of vitamin E a day or a placebo for one year. All the participants also received a multivitamin with 50% of the recommended daily allowance for various micronutrients. Nearly three-quarters of the original enrollees finished the study.

People in the vitamin E group had a 20% lower risk of catching a cold than those in the placebo group. Fewer participants in the vitamin E group got one or more respiratory infections -- 60% vs. 68% for all participants, and 65% vs. 74% for those who completed the study. Fewer individuals contracted upper respiratory tract infections -- 44% vs. 52% for all participants, and 50% vs. 62% for those completing the study.