Vitamin supplements don't help people live longer, study finds

Alicia Farmer
April 12, 2019

'Our results support the idea that, while supplement use contributes to an increased level of total nutrient intake, there are beneficial associations with nutrients from foods that aren't seen with supplements.

In 2015, only 12.2 percent of Americans met the recommendations for eating fruit, and just 9.3 percent ate enough vegetables - even though eating enough fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet reduces the risk of many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and obesity. Dietary intake of nutrients from foods was assessed using 24-hour dietary recalls.

The researchers did find a lower risk of death associated with supplements, but that association became non-significant when they accounted for lifestyle factors such as education, smoking and drinking.

The study showed that more than half of the participants of the study had reported using dietary supplements, while 38.3% reported using a multivitamin and mineral supplements. There was no association between dietary supplement use and a lower risk of death.

Unnecessary consumption of vitamin D supplements by individuals who were not deficient in the vitamin might increase the risk of death from any cause, the researchers found.

Scientists writing in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine said cancer patients could be putting themselves in greater danger by taking calcium supplement doses higher than 1,000 milligrams per day. Those that mentioned that they had used dietary supplements had been requested for particulars, together with how typically they took the merchandise. Excess intake of calcium was associated with higher risk of death from cancer, they said.

The researchers found that adequate intakes of vitamin K and magnesium are associated with lower risk of death, while adequate intakes of vitamin A, vitamin K, and zinc are associated with lower risk of death by cardiovascular diseases. It's important to note that the study involved self-reported dietary supplement use and dosage, and it's unclear whether specific usage durations may influence the outcome.

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The findings suggested that "adequate nutrient intake from foods was associated with reduced mortality, [while] excess intake from supplements could be harmful", the researchers concluded.

"For the general population, there's no need to take dietary supplements", Zhang says.

To calculate the daily supplement dose of each nutrient, the frequency and the product information for ingredient, amount of ingredient per serving, and ingredient unit were combined.

Professor Tom Sanders, of King's College London, said: 'People who self-medicate with supplements are often the "worried well" or those who have health problems.

More than half of U.S. adults actively use dietary supplements on a daily basis, and the entire industry is expected to grow to $278.02 billion by 2024.

'Furthermore, there are those who eat poor quality diets but take a supplement as an insurance policy. Avoid supplements and consume green vegetables and fruit for good functioning of heart and kidney.

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