Role of multivitamins and mineral supplements in preventing infections in elderly people: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trialsBMJ 2005; 330 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.38399.495648.8F (Published 14 April 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:871
- Alia El-Kadiki, specialist registrar ()1⇑,
- Alexander J Sutton, senior lecturer in medical statistics2
- 1 Chemical Pathology Department, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield S10 2JF,
- 2 Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 6TP
- Correspondence to: A El-Kadiki
Objective To evaluate the effectiveness of multivitamins and mineral supplements in reducing infections in an elderly population.
Design Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.
Data sources Medline and other databases. Reference lists of identified articles were inspected for further relevant articles.
Selection of studies Trials were included if they evaluated the effect of multivitamins and mineral supplements on infections in an elderly population.
Review methods Studies were assessed for the methodological quality by using the Jadad instrument. If the data required for the analyses were not available from the published articles we requested them from the original study authors. Meta-analysis was undertaken on three outcomes: the mean difference in number of days spent with infection, the odds ratio of at least one infection in the study period, and the incidence rate ratio for the difference in infection rates. Data on adverse events were also extracted.
Results Eight trials met our inclusion criteria. Owing to inconsistency in the outcomes reported, only a proportion of the trials could be included in each meta-analysis. Multivitamins and mineral supplements were found to reduce the mean annual number of days spent with infection (three studies) by 17.5 (95% confidence interval 11 to 24, P < 0.001). The odds ratio for at least one infection in the study period (three studies) was 1.10 (0.81 to 1.50, P = 0.53). The infection rate ratio (four studies) was 0.89 (0.78 to 1.03, P = 0.11). Reporting of adverse events was poor.
Conclusion The evidence for routine use of multivitamin and mineral supplements to reduce infections in elderly people is weak and conflicting. Study results are heterogeneous, and this is partially confounded by outcome measure.
Contributors Conception and design of the study, data extraction, analysis, and interpretation, drafting, and revising of the article were all carried out be AEK and AJS. AEK and AJS are joint first authors of the paper. AEK is guarantor.
Conflict of interest None declared.
Ethical approval Not required.