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Supplements Benefit Some Undernourished Elderly

Meta-analysis of 55 trials shows little benefit to well-nourished subjects and those living at home

TUESDAY, Jan. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Nutritional and energy supplements seem to benefit hospitalized elderly patients who are undernourished at the time of admittance, but not those who are well-nourished or who are living at home, according to an analysis published in the Jan. 3 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Anne C. Milne, M.Sc., from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, and colleagues reviewed 55 randomized trials of protein and energy supplementation in 9,187 patients who were 65 years of age or older.

Among older and undernourished hospitalized patients, supplements sometimes reduced mortality and complications, such as infections, poor wound healing and pressure sores. Oral supplements also sometimes caused nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Supplements did not benefit patients living at home and those who were well nourished.

The "trials provide some evidence of increased survival and reduced complications for hospitalized, undernourished patients, and possibly increased survival for those in long-term care," the authors write. "Although the evidence is limited and is generally of poor quality, we suggest that routine supplements should be considered for this group, but not for well-nourished patients."

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