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Do vitamin supplements increase death risk?

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We pop vitamins in the hope that they might negate the effects of the modern lifestyle — but are they doing more harm than good? A new US study has found that some vitamin supplements could increase the risk of premature death.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota examined data on the supplement usage of more than 38,000 women over the age of 60 from the long-term Iowa Women's Health Study.

Women who took supplements had, on average, a 2.4 percent increased risk of dying over the course of the 19-year study, compared with women who didn't take supplements.

While researchers couldn't determine the specific cause of increased risk of mortality, they found it to be was linked with supplementing multivitamins, vitamin B6, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc and copper.

"However, we do know that most compounds are toxic in high amounts, and long-term use might predispose [a person] to detrimental outcomes," Jaakko Mursu, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health told MyHealthNewsDaily .

He said that the increased chance of death "could be related to generally high concentration of compounds that these supplements contain.

"Most supplements contain higher amounts of nutrients than would be derived from food, and it is known that several compounds can be toxic in higher amounts, especially when consumed for a long time, as some of these accumulate to body," Mursu said.

"Our study, as well as other similar studies, have provided very little evidence that commonly used dietary supplements would help to prevent chronic diseases," Mursu said.

"We would advise people to reconsider whether they need to use supplements, and put more emphasis on a healthy diet instead."

Nutrition Australia told Health & Wellbeing, "Nutrition Australia's key message for the public is that enjoying a wide variety of fresh foods across all the main food groups is a key factor to ensure your health and wellbeing.

"Using food as the means to supply your body with the key nutrients it needs is always the best choice. There may be some occasions when vitamin or mineral supplementation is desirable (eg depending on different lifestyle factors such as smoking, stress, and alcohol intake) but people need to check that any supplements they consider taking are appropriate for them and only use the recommended dose.

"And they should check with their doctor, pharmacist or dietitian that there will not be any drug-nutrient interactions with medications they may already be taking. We would recommend that people check with their doctor before commencing any vitamin or mineral supplementation."

User comments
Thanks for post!
Thanks for the informative article like this. keep posting.
How does one get such results? 1. When doing clinical trials use synthetic versions of nutrients you are trying to disprove. e.g. rac-a-tocopheryl acetate instead of a-tocopheryl. 2.Do not identify what form (synthetic or not) of supplements were used. 3. For population trials from previous studies, omit studies which show better health outcomes, skewing the overall data. deselection is a common tool to support a preconcieved bias that does not fit your hypothesis 4. Include studies in people who are already very sick and only took supplements because of diseases. any wonder here? 5. Hire statisticians, who have no idea of biochemistry, micronutrient metabolism, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. information input=output An almost identical study could be done associating frequency of visits to the doctor with increased risk of death. The media would never cover this headline. Active sabotage of natural therapies is common in studies. Dont be spoonfed info, challenge assumptions
How does one get such results? 1. When doing clinical trials use synthetic versions of nutrients you are trying to disprove. e.g. rac-a-tocopheryl acetate instead of a-tocopheryl. 2.Do not identify what form (synthetic or not) of supplements were used. 3. For population trials from previous studies, omit studies which show better health outcomes, skewing the overall data. deselection is a common tool to support a preconcieved bias that does not fit your hypothesis 4. Include studies in people who are already very sick and only took supplements because of diseases. any wonder here? 5. Hire statisticians, who have no idea of biochemistry, micronutrient metabolism, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. information input=output An almost identical study could be done associating frequency of visits to the doctor with increased risk of death. The media would never cover this headline. Active sabotage of natural therapies is common in studies. Dont be spoonfed info, challenge assumptions
I researched about this last year alot and all the suppliments effect sraight on our liver and heart. The proteins we take for gym it does show the effect and helps in muscle growth but many people end up with liver problems.
Hmmmm vitamin & mineral supplements can be toxic in high doses, but one thing that people REALLY need to be aware of is the current fasion of poly pharmacy, where a doctor will prescirbe a drug, then proceed to prescribe more drugs to negate the side effects of the first one(s). This can kill you very effectively, as my unfortunate brother recently discovered. Be VERY careful when you are prescirbed anything, and be aware that your delightful GP or specialist is often nothing more that a glorified drug pusher, so blinded by the marketing of drug manufacturers that he or she thinks all can be remedied with pills rather than determining the underlying cause of a patient's condition. In my brother's case, he had been showing signs of toxic reaction for at least a year, but wheneverhe consulted a doctor or specialist he was pawned off with more drugs to counter the side effects of the first one. Absoultely disgusted with this system.

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