Boosting Immune Function in the Elderly
Aging is often accompanied by various changes in lifestyle that can affect nutritional status, specifically antioxidant intake. Diet supplementation with micronutrients is often recommended, especially in the elderly population, to help maximize immune function and overall health.
Thirty women (average age: 72 years) were involved in a study that investigated the effects of vitamin C and E supplementation on functions of the immune response.
The women were divided into three groups: 10 healthy women; 10 women diagnosed with a major depression disorder (MDD); and 10 suffering from coronary heart disease (CHD). Blood samples were collected before and after treatment for measurement of several immunological functions. The subjects received one gram of vitamin C and 200 milligrams of vitamin E daily for 16 weeks.
Antioxidant vitamin supplementation improved immune function, as evidenced by reduced serum lipid peroxides (free radicals associated with reduced immune function) in healthy controls and in patients diagnosed with MDD or CHD. Neutrophil and lymphocyte functions (two indicators of a healthy immune system) were also improved, while serum cortisol levels (another contributor to poor immune function) were slightly decreased in all three subject groups. The authors conclude: "These findings suggest an important role of antioxidant supplementation in the improvement of immune function... and in the prevention and treatment of specific diseases associated with age."
De La Fuente M, Ferrandez MS, Burgos A, et al. Immune function in aged women is improved by ingestion of vitamins C and E. Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology
, April 1998:76(4), pp373-380.