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Each year, millions of people are pestered with the common cold, but among elderly individuals such colds can be much more debilitating. A groundbreaking study by Dr Simin Meydani and colleagues from Tufts University found that vitamin E may protect against the common cold among elderly individuals residing in nursing homes. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found that those taking the vitamin E supplement pills were 20% less likely to suffer from respiratory tract infections and that vitamin E supplementation reduced the incidence of common colds by about 22%. The 1-year study enrolled 617 individuals who were 65 years of age or older and residing in 1 of 33 long-term care facilities. Roughly half of the participants were given a daily supplement containing 200 IU of vitamin E while the remaining participants received a daily placebo capsule containing only 4 IU of vitamin E. Nurses performed weekly physical examinations on participants to collect information relating to signs and symptoms of respiratory tract infection. There was a significantly lower frequency of common colds and significantly fewer individuals with common colds among the elders taking the vitamin E supplement when compared to those receiving the placebo.


Source: JAMA, August 2004