Courtesy Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Just how important are vitamins and minerals in influencing resistance to infectious diseases? Some of the best current answers to that question will be offered in a supplement to the Journal of Infectious Diseases appearing later this year. The special publication, stemming from a 1999 workshop organized by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, attests that the field is rife with research activity nowadays. Micronutrients such as zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, C, E, and B-6 have all become subjects of intense scrutiny.

"Over the last five years, the area of micronutrients and infectious disease has gained a lot of prominence, particularly for infectious diseases in developing countries," notes Waifie W. Fawzi, assistant professor of international nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard University School of Public Health.

Simin N. Meydani, chief of the nutritional and immunology laboratory at...

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