Micronutrient supplementation in later life: limited evidence for benefit

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2004 Jul;59(7):659-73. doi: 10.1093/gerona/59.7.b659.


The importance of attaining adequate macronutrient and micronutrient intake throughout the life course is essential for the maintenance of health. Claims have been made for the benefits of micronutrient supplementation in later life, and this review considers the strength of the evidence behind these claims focusing on studies with cardiovascular, cancer, eye health, immune, and cognitive end points. While observational data suggest the presence of a link between dietary micronutrient intake and health outcomes, evidence from large randomized controlled trials does not support the use of antioxidant vitamin or mineral supplements among well-nourished older populations. Moreover, there is evidence of possible adverse affects of micronutrient supplementation. In conclusion, the considerable enthusiasm for the use of micronutrient, especially antioxidant, supplements as anti-aging treatments or as treatments for specific diseases of later life is not supported by the currently available scientific literature.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Eye Diseases / prevention & control
  • Geriatrics*
  • Humans
  • Immunity / drug effects
  • Micronutrients / therapeutic use*
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Micronutrients