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High doses of vitamin E boost the immune system in elderly people

In a recent study of 88 healthy people, aged 65 or older those who took 200 milligrams of vitamin E each day for about four months showed an improvement in immune response compared to people who took a placebo or other amounts of the vitamin.

The study, which was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association provides new support for vitamin E supplementation in older people. In this and other studies, positive effects of the supplement were seen at doses much greater than the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of 10 milligrams for men and 7 milligrams for women.

In the study, people who took 200 mg a day had a 65 percent increase in a measure of immune system strength known as delayed hypersensitivity skin response. In addition those who took the supplements produced six times more antibodies to hepatitis B after being given the vaccine than those who took placebo. They also produced more antibodies against tetanus infection. Those taking 60 mg or 800 mg of vitamin E also showed some improvements in immune function but the ideal response was seen in those taking 200 mg.

It is possible that vitamin E boost immune response by acting against prostaglandin E2 which impairs immunity.