Micronutrient supplementation and immune function in the elderly.
Clin Infect Dis 1999 Apr;28(4):717-22
Immunologic function, particularly
cell-mediated immunity, declines with age, contributing to the increased
incidence of infectious diseases in the elderly. Nutrition may play a
pivotal role in maintaining immune competence in older adults. Most studies
to date have focused on micronutrient deficiencies and supplementation,
sometimes using "mega-dose" formulations. Multivitamin/mineral
supplements or specific micronutrients such as zinc and vitamin E may
be of value; however, data suggest there is likely a therapeutic range
for many micronutrients, and oversupplementation may be harmful. Specific
alterations of dietary lipids may also be useful for modulating immune
responses in the elderly. This review summarizes the prevalence
of vitamin and mineral deficiencies in older adults and highlights the
outcomes of trials of micronutrient supplementation to augment immune
function in the elderly.