Daily intake of multivitamin supplements can boost nutritional health among older men, researchers say.

A study, published in the journal Nutrients, shows daily multivitamin/multimineral supplementation has a positive effect on key nutrition biomarkers in healthy older men.

This improved nutrition status was found to have a direct impact on better cellular function, which was measured by the oxygen consumption of the participants' blood cells. The findings highlight the potential benefits of multivitamin supplementation in supporting overall health and well-being as people age.

"Many older adults take a multivitamin, thinking it will help them stay healthy," Alexander Michels, a research associate at Oregon State University's (OSU) Linus Pauling Institute, said in a news release. "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 aren't as effective at changing nutrition biomarkers in older adults?"

The participants of the study, conducted by a team of eight OSU researchers, included 35 healthy men aged 68 or older. It was a double-blind study, meaning half of the participants received a Centrum Silver supplement, while the other half received a placebo.

The participants were unaware of which group they belonged to. Throughout the study, they were not allowed to take any other supplements except for doctor-prescribed vitamin D.

After the six-month trial, the multivitamin group showed improved nutrition levels based on biomarker measurements, while the placebo group did not. This indicated that taking the multivitamin had a positive effect on their nutritional status.

"Several of the participants assigned to the placebo group had blood nutrition biomarkers fall during the study," said Tory Hagen, a professor of biochemistry and biophysics at OSU. "It suggests that food alone was not enough to keep their vitamin and carotenoid levels up."

"We were amazed 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 cell 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."

Experts believe that the study has opened new avenues for research in the field of nutrition.

"Our evidence indicates that many older men could benefit from a daily multivitamin, but the response did vary from individual to individual," Michels said. "Knowing who benefits the most and why will be key for multivitamin trials that evaluate disease risk in the future."

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