CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA. Common infectious illnesses such as upper respiratory tract infections (bronchitis, common cold), lower respiratory tract infections (pneumonia), influenza, gastrointestinal infection (stomach flu), and urinary tract infections account for a significant number of sick days and absenteeism. Researchers at the North Carolina School of Medicine now report that taking a daily multivitamin pill (with minerals) may significantly improve an individual's resistance to infection. Their study involved 130 adults who were randomized to take a common, commercially available multivitamin pill or a placebo daily for 1 year.
At the end of the year 73% of the members of the placebo group reported having experienced one or more infections during the previous 12 months. Only 43% of the supplemented group had experienced infections. Infection-related absenteeism was also higher in the placebo group at 57% versus 21% in the supplement group. The differences were almost exclusively found in the subgroup of participants with type 2 diabetes. Here 93% of placebo takers reported an infection versus only 17% in the supplement group. This is likely due to the fact that many of the diabetic participants suffered from vitamin deficiencies at the beginning of the trial.
The researchers conclude that supplementation with a multivitamin may be highly beneficial for diabetics,
particularly those with a nutrient-deficient diet. They also urge larger trials to conclusively determine the
benefits of vitamin supplementation in the general population.