The six popular vitamin supplements linked to 'increased' risk of death

By Adam Chapman & Nisha Mal & Sophie Halle-Richards

Some daily vitamin supplements could cause an 'increased' risk of death, according to a new study.

Research published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine looked into the usage of vitamin supplements, and the impact they may have on your body.

The study assessed the use of vitamin and mineral supplements in relation to total mortality in 38,772 older women in the Iowa Women's Health Study, the Express reports.

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The Iowa Women's Health Study was designed to examine associations between several host, dietary, and lifestyle factors and the incidence of death.

Supplement use was self-reported in 1986, 1997, and 2004.

Through December 31, 2008, a total of 15 594 deaths (40.2 percent) were identified through the State Health Registry of Iowa and the National Death Index.

Vitamins linked to increased risk of death

The use of multivitamins, vitamin B6, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc, and copper were associated with increased risk of total mortality when compared with corresponding non use.

"In older women, several commonly used dietary vitamin and mineral supplements may be associated with increased total mortality risk," concluded the researchers.

"This association is strongest with supplemental iron. In contrast to the findings of many studies, calcium is associated with decreased risk."

The findings have been echoed in several studies, which suggest there is no clear health benefit to taking vitamins and supplements.

A review published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine reviewed the results of randomised studies of multivitamin/mineral supplements and individual vitamins/mineral supplements in relation to overall mortality and incidence of chronic diseases, particularly cancer and ischaemic heart disease.

The results of large-scale randomised trials show that, for the majority of the population, there is no overall benefit from taking multivitamin/mineral supplements.

Indeed, some studies have shown increased risk of cancers in relation to using certain vitamins.

How to get the vitamins you need

Most people should get all the nutrients they need by having a varied and balanced diet, although some people may need to take extra supplements.

Vitamins and minerals, such as iron, calcium and vitamin C, are essential nutrients that your body needs in small amounts to work properly.

Many people choose to take supplements but taking too much or taking them for too long could be harmful.

The Department of Health and Social Care recommends certain supplements for some groups of people who are at risk of deficiency.

If you're pregnant, trying for a baby or could get pregnant, it's recommended that you take a 400 microgram folic acid supplement every day until you're 12 weeks pregnant.

Folic acid supplements need to be taken before you get pregnant, so start taking them before you stop using contraception or if there's a chance you might get pregnant.

"Folic acid can help to prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida," notes the NHS.


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