Intended for healthcare professionals


Vitamin and mineral supplements for preventing infections in older people

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 04 August 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:304
  1. Salah Gariballa, clinical senior lecturer (
  1. Sheffield Institute for Studies on Ageing, University of Sheffield, Northern General Hospital, Sheffield, S5 7AU

    May have a place for some, but improved diet and physical activity will do more good

    The number of older people is growing rapidly worldwide. In England alone the number of people older than 65 has more than doubled since the 1930s, and one fifth of the population is now aged 60 or more.1 Ageing, disease, lifestyle, and environmental factors may all impair in older people the acquisition of food and its intake, processing, and metabolism, all leading to poor nutritional status.2 Ageing is also associated with decreases in physical activity and lean body mass and an increase in body fat. The accompanying reductions in energy requirements and intake of food lead to lower intakes of macronutrients and micronutrients.2

    Many older people exhibit poor immune responses and are at a high risk of infection.3 Although the mechanisms leading to the age related decline in …

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