Revitalizing the Golden Years: Dietary supplements boost nutrition in older men

Multivitamin supplement in tablets

An Oregon State University study found that daily multivitamin/multimineral supplementation improved key nutritional biomarkers and maintained cellular function in healthy older men. While participants taking a supplement showed improved biomarkers, those taking a placebo showed no change and a reduction in cellular oxygen consumption. Research suggests that multivitamins can play a significant role in promoting health as people age. Credit: State of Oregon

A six-month study of healthy older men demonstrated that daily multivitamin/multimineral supplementation had a positive effect on key nutritional biomarkers.

Research led by Tory Hagen and Alexander Michels of Oregon State University also showed that changes in nutritional status could have direct connections to cellular function, as measured by the oxygen consumption of study participants’ blood cells.

The results, published in the journal Nutrientssuggest that supplementation may be a key tool in helping people stay healthier as they age.

Many seniors take a multivitamin, thinking it will help them stay healthy, said Michels, a research associate at OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute. However, previous studies have shown mixed results when it comes to multivitamins and disease risk. We wanted to know why there was so much uncertainty. Is it possible that multivitamins are not as effective at modifying nutritional biomarkers in the elderly?

The research team, which included eight OSU scientists, recruited 35 healthy men age 68 and older for the double-blind study, half received a Centrum Silver supplement, the other half received a placebo and participants did not know what they were receiving. None of the participants were allowed to take any other supplements during the study, except for vitamin D if prescribed by their doctor.

Our tests showed that many of these older men weren’t getting the optimal levels of several vitamins when the study began, said Hagen, principal investigator and the Helen P. Rumbel Professor for Healthy Aging Research at the Linus Pauling Institute. . So there was definitely room for improvement.

After the six-month trial, the differences in the supplement and placebo groups became apparent. While those taking the multivitamin showed better nutrition biomarkers, those taking the placebo did not.

Many of the participants assigned to the placebo group had blood nutrition biomarkers drop during the study, said Hagen, who is also a professor of biochemistry and biophysics at OSU. He suggests that food alone wasn’t enough to keep vitamin and carotenoid levels up.

Carotenoids are yellow, orange and red pigments synthesized by plants and play multiple roles in human health. Certain carotenoids such as beta-carotene can provide the body with an extra source of vitamin A.

Although the researchers didn’t measure disease risk, they did test white blood cells, part of the body’s immune system.

We were surprised to find that the men who took the placebo showed a reduction in cellular oxygen consumption, Hagen added, noting that oxygen consumption is an indicator of cellular function. This was not observed in men who took the multivitamin, suggesting a connection between vitamin status and white blood cell function that we are eager to explore further.

The researchers believe the study heralds a new era for multivitamin research.

Our evidence indicates that many older men could benefit from a daily multivitamin, but the response varied between individuals, Michels said. Knowing who benefits the most and why will be key to multivitamin studies assessing disease risk in the future.

Reference: Multivitamin/multimineral supplementation prevents or reverses the decline of vitamin biomarkers and cellular energy metabolism in healthy older men: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study by Alexander J. Michels, Judy A. Butler, Sandra L Uesugi, Ken Lee, Balz B. Frei, Gerd Bobe, Kathy R. Magnusson & Tory M. Hagen, June 9, 2023, Nutrients.
DOI: 10.3390/nu15122691

The research team included Judy Butler, Sandra Uesugi, Ken Lee, Balz Frei, Gerd Bobe and Kathy Magnusson of the Linus Pauling Institutes. The researchers also represent OSU Colleges of Agricultural and Sciences and Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine.

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