Not enough health benefits in vitamin supplements, study says

Vitamins from Food — Not Supplements — Linked with Longer Life

While, insufficient intakes of vitamin K, Vitamin A, and Zinc were associated with lower risk of death from cardiovascular diseases.

Additionally, while calcium intake of at least 1,000 mg per day was linked to an increased risk of cancer mortality, no such link was found when calcium was sourced from food. The connection between excess calcium and cancer still isn't totally clear and will require more research, she says.

But when the researchers considered the source of these nutrients - food vs supplements - only nutrients from food were tied to a lower risk of death from any cause or heart disease.

This was associated with a 53 per cent greater risk of death from cancer, although the relative risk remained small.

Now a new study from Tufts University says it all again with this simple conclusion: "Use of dietary supplements is not associated with mortality benefits among US adults".

Getting enough vitamin A, vitamin K, magnesium, zinc and copper were all associated with a lower risk of dying early, the researchers found - but only when those nutrients came from food.

The new study isn't the first to link supplement use with harmful effects.

From the evidence gathered, it's becoming more clear that "the regular use of dietary supplements is not beneficial in reducing the risk of mortality among the general population in the U.S.", according to study co author Dr. Fang Fang Zhang, an associate professor at the Freedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

On the other hand, risk of death from cancer is only associated to excess calcium from dietary supplements, not from food.

With more than half of US adults using dietary supplements, Zhang and her colleagues explored their effects, as well as the impact of nutrients found in foods, with data from 27,725 adults participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. After that, a household interview was held, and they had to answer whether or not they had used any vitamin supplements in the previous 30 days. Multivitamins, many people believe, are a one-step way to get the nutrients they need.

Dr. Rekha Kumar, an endocrinologist, wasn't surprised by the finding that people consuming healthy diets lived longer and that supplements didn't seem to extend life. One last advice, focus on taking as a supplement only the calcium or the minerals that are missing from your diet.

Zhang says a few populations may benefit from certain supplements, including the elderly - who often struggle to absorb nutrients from food - and those with dietary restrictions that may lead to deficiencies. In addition, some past research has indicated that taking supplements - rather than getting the nutrients from food - may increase the risk of certain health problems rather than protect against them. But with an abundance of uncertainty and a lack of evidence for supplements, Zhang says the average person should just eat a balanced diet that contains plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, rather than turning to over-the-counter solutions.

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