Effects of Daily Supplements on Nutritional Biomarkers

A group of researchers led by Tory Hagen and Alexander Michels from Oregon State University conducted a six-month study on healthy older men to explore the effects of daily multivitamin/multimineral supplementation on nutrition biomarkers. The study aimed to understand the uncertainty surrounding the effectiveness of multivitamins in changing nutrition biomarkers in older adults.

The double-blind study involved 35 men aged 68 or older, with half receiving a Centrum Silver supplement and the other half receiving a placebo. None of the participants were allowed to take other supplements during the study, except for prescribed vitamin D. The researchers measured various nutrition biomarkers and cellular function, specifically the oxygen consumption of the participants' blood cells.

At the start of the study, the researchers found that many of the older men had suboptimal levels of several vitamins. After the six-month trial, notable differences emerged between the supplement and placebo groups. The participants taking the multivitamin showed improvements in nutrition biomarkers, whereas those on the placebo did not.

Interestingly, some participants in the placebo group experienced a decline in blood nutrition biomarkers during the study, indicating that dietary intake alone was insufficient to maintain adequate vitamin and carotenoid levels. Carotenoids, pigments found in plants, play essential roles in human health, and certain carotenoids can contribute to vitamin A levels in the body.

While the study did not measure disease risk directly, the researchers evaluated the white blood cells of the participants, which are crucial for immune function. They discovered that the men in the placebo group exhibited reduced cellular oxygen consumption, which serves as an indicator of cell function. This reduction was not observed in the multivitamin group, suggesting a potential connection between vitamin status and white blood cell function that warrants further investigation.

The researchers believe that this study marks the beginning of a new era in multivitamin research. They suggest that many older men could benefit from daily multivitamin supplementation, although individual responses may vary. Identifying those who benefit the most and understanding the underlying reasons will be crucial for future multivitamin trials assessing disease risk. The research team involved scientists from the Linus Pauling Institute and various departments within Oregon State University.
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