Tag Archives: immunity

Amino Acids and Vitamins Improved Health in Elderly

As we age, it is generally believed our immune system deteriorates. It is considered a fact of life. Japanese researchers did a study to investigate the effects of supplementing amino acids and vitamins for both unhealthy and healthier older people for both inpatients and outpatients.

From the article, “Amino acid and vitamin supplementation improved health conditions in elderly participants”, Japanese researchers studied one bedridden inpatient group and one outpatient group.

Daily, a mixture of the amino acids containing leucine (1200 mg/day), glutamine (600 mg/day), and arginine (500 mg/day), plus 11 kinds of vitamins were administrated for 8 weeks. In both groups, general blood biomarkers such as C-reactive protein levels, white blood cell count, and natural killer (NK) cell activity were measured.

The study involved thirteen bedridden inpatients (7 males, 6 females; mean age, 81.8 ± 8 years) and eleven outpatients (7 males, 4 females; mean age, 74 ± 12 years) from the Sansei Hospital (Hyogo Prefecture, Japan).

These same amino acid and vitamins were administered to the inpatients as the outpatients with water twice daily, immediately after dinner and before sleeping.

Results from clinical study on Amino Acids and Vitamins

The researchers found that supplementation of the three amino acids arginine, glutamine, and leucine, and 11 kinds of vitamins had beneficial effects on the health of older people in poor health. The aging process in humans results in a condition called sarcopenia, which involves decreased skeletal muscle mass and function which is associated with metabolic diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.

In this study, immune parameters were also evaluated. Of these, NK cell activity, an index of innate immunity, increased in both outpatients and inpatients. In the immune system, NK cell activity is thought to be one of the important indices for monitoring immunity because innate immunity is the first line of defense against infections. For those inpatients who were administered amino acids, their condition was stable due to increased NK cell activity.

To conclude, this study suggested that “dietary supplementation with the amino acids arginine (500 mg/day), glutamine (600 mg/day), leucine (1200 mg/day), and 11 kinds of vitamins for the elderly in poor health increased NK cell activity, irregardless of the presence of a primary disease and the amount of the daily nutrient intake.”

It was also observed that supplementation with more than 1 g/day of vitamin C enhanced immunity in healthy adults. In addition, vitamin E fostered the immunity for both unhealthy subjects (750 mg/day) and in healthy elderly subjects (800 mg/day).




L-methionine Supplements for HIV or Immune-Compromised Patients

A study from South Africa has investigated the effects of L-methionine supplements for HIV or immune-compromised patients, with positive results.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a major global public health issue. Over 25 million people have died from HIV in the past 30 years, and more people are being diagnosed every day. According to the World Health Organization, there were about 34 million people living with HIV in 2011. HIV, in a matter of a decade, can develop into AIDS, which is the most advanced form of HIV.

HIV causes the immune system to fail, which means life-threatening infections and cancers can develop. The virus affects T cells in the immune system, leading to declines in the amounts of these vital cells.  HIV specifically affects CD4 T cells, white blood cells which are an essential part of the immune system.  If untreated, HIV causes the amount of CD4 cells to drop to a critically low level. Immunity is lost.

There’s no cure for HIV, but the virus can be treated with antiretroviral drugs. These are widely available in North America, but in Africa, where most of the new cases are diagnosed, fewer people have access. Research into boosting the immune system, therefore, is a growing field.

R Van Brummelen and D du Toit, researchers with the Tshwane University of Technology, Gezina, South Africa, developed a clinical study to test L-L-methionine supplements. Would the amino acid improve the immune system of HIV infected patients?

L-methionine, one of the sulfur-containing amino acids, is important for many bodily functions.  It converts to L-cysteine in the body, when it becomes a vital antioxidant, scavenging damaging free radicals and boosting the immune system.

L-methionine tested as immune supportive supplement

The researchers designed a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. HIV patients were given either L-methionine supplements, or a placebo. Treatments continued for six months, then the patients were tested.

Results were statistically significant. In the L-methionine supplement group, CD4 counts showed a decreased level of decline, meaning the HIV was not destroying as many of these crucial cells in the immune system.

Additionally, there were no serious side effects from the treatment.

The researchers concluded that L-methionine supports the immune system, and can play a role in the treatment of immune-compromised patients.