Vitamin E Prevents Colds

September 13, 2004

By taking a modest vitamin E supplement, the elderly can be spared every fifth cold they would normally get. This is the result of the best randomized trial in this field so far. It was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA.

The study was carried out by a university-based team of researchers in Boston belonging under the American Ministry of Agriculture. In charge of this group was Simin Meydani, a professor and specialist in nutrition and ageing. She has previously established that it is not belief but reality that Vitamin E stimulates the T cells of the immune system.

The study included 617 people in 33 nursing homes and they were all above 65 years old. Half of them were given a supplement of 200 I.U. of Vitamin E every day for a year. The other half were given placebo and during the study, it was calculated which group suffered the fewest respiratory infections.

It turned out that the ones who were given vitamin E had fewer infections than the others and particularly the number of colds were reduced by a statistical significance of 20%. There was no effect, however, on the frequency of pneumonia.

Meydani emphasized that even though only every fifth cold was prevented, the result is still important. Vitamin E is completely harmless and colds are the cause of 30% of all absence due to illness in the US.

Another perspective is the possibility that Vitamin E perhaps has a particular effect on viral infections like colds but not on diseases like pneumonia which are mostly caused by bacteria. Based on this, other researchers wanted to know if vitamin E can have an importance in the fight against AIDS, where it is exactly the T cells that are being targeted, but Meydani herself did not want to speak on this subject.

The results were originally displayed in May of this year at a closed scientific symposium on vitamin E arranged by the New York Academy of Science. Almost all of the world’s élite in vitamin E research participated.

Among other things, also the highly sensational findings were displayed that a combination of Vitamin C and Vitamin E supplements reduces the aggravation of Alzheimer’s disease by 50% and that the same combination prevents eclampsia in every other pregnant woman who are at risk of developing this serious disease.

By: Vitality Council

Vitamin E and Respiratory Tract Infections in Elderly Nursing Home Residents A Randomized Controlled Trial Simin Nikbin Meydani, DVM, PhD; Lynette S. Leka, BS; Basil C. Fine, MD; Gerard E. Dallal, PhD; Gerald T. Keusch, MD; Maria Fiatarone Singh, MD; Davidson H. Hamer, MD JAMA. 2004;292:828-836.