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Perspective: Role of micronutrients and omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids for immune outcomes of relevance to infections in older adults – a narrative review and call for action

Perspective: Role of micronutrients and omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids for immune outcomes of relevance to infections in older adults – a narrative review and call for action
Perspective: Role of micronutrients and omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids for immune outcomes of relevance to infections in older adults – a narrative review and call for action

The immune system is weakened by advancing age, often referred to as immunosenescence, increasing the vulnerability to, and frequently the severity of, infectious diseases in older people. This has become very apparent in the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic for which older people are at higher risk of severe outcomes, even those who are fully vaccinated. Aging affects both the innate and adaptive immune systems and is characterized by an imbalanced inflammatory response. Increasing evidence shows that optimal status of nutrients such as vitamins C, D, and E and selenium and zinc as well as the omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids DHA and EPA can help compensate for these age-related changes. While inadequate intakes of these nutrients are widespread in the general population, this is often more pronounced in older people. Maintaining adequate intakes is a challenge for them due to a range of factors such as physical, physiological, and cognitive changes; altered absorption; and the presence of noncommunicable diseases. While nutritional requirements are ideally covered by a balanced diet, this can be difficult to achieve, particularly for older people. Fortified foods and nutritional complements are effective in achieving adequate micronutrient intakes and should be considered as a safe and cost-effective means for older people to improve their nutritional status and hence support their defense against infections. Complementing the diet with a combination of micronutrients, particularly those playing a key role in the immune system such as vitamins C, D, and E and selenium and zinc as well as DHA and EPA, is recommended for older people. Optimal nutrition to support the immune system in older people will remain essential, particularly in the face of the current COVID-19 pandemic and, thus, developing strategies to ensure adequate nutrition for the growing number of older adults will be an important and cost-effective investment in the future.

COVID-19, docosahexaenoic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, immunosenescence, inflammaging, influenza, older adults, trace element, viral infection, vitamin
2156-5376
1415-1430
Eggersdorfer, Manfred
b61e2f83-b332-48d4-b214-00a701113f06
Berger, Mette M.
de7c521c-3b3d-4039-921d-fa4e7cbd8bbf
Calder, Philip
1797e54f-378e-4dcb-80a4-3e30018f07a6
Gombart, Adrian F.
c07f5458-172e-4f75-bfbb-88cfdec296d3
Ho, Emily
657ff0ec-19b6-4d86-9d70-e6aab65e2e6c
Laviano, Alessandro
740db384-8a93-442e-bb56-306f5b26f34e
Meydani, Simin N.
9deaaba8-c14f-40f0-a286-fd28715b3f76
Eggersdorfer, Manfred
b61e2f83-b332-48d4-b214-00a701113f06
Berger, Mette M.
de7c521c-3b3d-4039-921d-fa4e7cbd8bbf
Calder, Philip
1797e54f-378e-4dcb-80a4-3e30018f07a6
Gombart, Adrian F.
c07f5458-172e-4f75-bfbb-88cfdec296d3
Ho, Emily
657ff0ec-19b6-4d86-9d70-e6aab65e2e6c
Laviano, Alessandro
740db384-8a93-442e-bb56-306f5b26f34e
Meydani, Simin N.
9deaaba8-c14f-40f0-a286-fd28715b3f76

Eggersdorfer, Manfred, Berger, Mette M., Calder, Philip, Gombart, Adrian F., Ho, Emily, Laviano, Alessandro and Meydani, Simin N. (2022) Perspective: Role of micronutrients and omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids for immune outcomes of relevance to infections in older adults – a narrative review and call for action. Advances in Nutrition, 13 (5), 1415-1430, [nmac058]. (doi:10.1093/advances/nmac058).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The immune system is weakened by advancing age, often referred to as immunosenescence, increasing the vulnerability to, and frequently the severity of, infectious diseases in older people. This has become very apparent in the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic for which older people are at higher risk of severe outcomes, even those who are fully vaccinated. Aging affects both the innate and adaptive immune systems and is characterized by an imbalanced inflammatory response. Increasing evidence shows that optimal status of nutrients such as vitamins C, D, and E and selenium and zinc as well as the omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids DHA and EPA can help compensate for these age-related changes. While inadequate intakes of these nutrients are widespread in the general population, this is often more pronounced in older people. Maintaining adequate intakes is a challenge for them due to a range of factors such as physical, physiological, and cognitive changes; altered absorption; and the presence of noncommunicable diseases. While nutritional requirements are ideally covered by a balanced diet, this can be difficult to achieve, particularly for older people. Fortified foods and nutritional complements are effective in achieving adequate micronutrient intakes and should be considered as a safe and cost-effective means for older people to improve their nutritional status and hence support their defense against infections. Complementing the diet with a combination of micronutrients, particularly those playing a key role in the immune system such as vitamins C, D, and E and selenium and zinc as well as DHA and EPA, is recommended for older people. Optimal nutrition to support the immune system in older people will remain essential, particularly in the face of the current COVID-19 pandemic and, thus, developing strategies to ensure adequate nutrition for the growing number of older adults will be an important and cost-effective investment in the future.

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2022.04.22 Manuscript R2 (5)March 20-mb-me_BT clean - Accepted Manuscript
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Accepted/In Press date: 10 May 2022
e-pub ahead of print date: 19 May 2022
Published date: 2 October 2022
Additional Information: Publisher Copyright: © The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society for Nutrition.
Keywords: COVID-19, docosahexaenoic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, immunosenescence, inflammaging, influenza, older adults, trace element, viral infection, vitamin

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 457508
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/457508
ISSN: 2156-5376
PURE UUID: afa89ddf-5531-4d70-86b7-e4b4af619b41
ORCID for Philip Calder: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-6038-710X

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Date deposited: 09 Jun 2022 17:10
Last modified: 04 Feb 2023 05:01

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Contributors

Author: Manfred Eggersdorfer
Author: Mette M. Berger
Author: Philip Calder ORCID iD
Author: Adrian F. Gombart
Author: Emily Ho
Author: Alessandro Laviano
Author: Simin N. Meydani

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