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A Role for Multivitamins in Infection?

Wafaie Fawzi, MBBS, DrPH; and Meir J. Stampfer, MD, DrPH
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From Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115

Corresponding Author: Wafaie Fawzi, MBBS, DrPH, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, 655 Huntington Avenue, Building II, Room 329A, Boston, MA 02115.

Current Author Addresses: Dr. Fawzi: Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, 655 Huntington Avenue, Building II, Room 329A, Boston, MA 02115.

Dr. Stampfer: Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Kresge Building, Room 904, Boston, MA 02115.

Ann Intern Med. 2003;138(5):430-431. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-138-5-200303040-00014
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Millions of Americans take multivitamin and mineral supplements hoping to promote good health, but few studies have documented the benefits (1). The strongest evidence supports use of folate supplements to reduce birth defects; less compelling but suggestive evidence supports multivitamin use for prevention of chronic disease, especially coronary disease and cancer. Despite fortification of the U.S. food supply with folate, homocysteine levels could be further reduced with optimal intake of folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. Moreover, although many elderly adults produce insufficient gastric acid to liberate vitamin B12 from food, causing subclinical insufficiency, acid is not required to absorb vitamin B12 from supplements. A recent randomized trial among postangioplasty patients showed that homocysteine-lowering vitamin therapy reduced major adverse outcomes by one third compared with placebo (2).



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