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

Calcium supplements linked to cancer in major study

"As potential benefits and harms of supplement use continue to be studied, some studies have found associations between excess nutrient intake and adverse outcomes, including increased risk of certain cancers", Zhang said. The bad news is that this link is seen only when those nutrients come from food, not supplements, according to a new study.

However, more than half of the participants declared the use of dietary supplements, and 38.3 percent claimed the use of multivitamin and mineral supplements. That quantity included 945 cardiovascular deaths and 805 most cancers deaths. In addition, prevalence and dosage of dietary supplement use was self-reported and so is subject to recall bias. The ones that had used supplements had to give more details about it. As well as, throughout a family interview, they answered whether or not they had used any dietary supplements within the earlier 30 days.

First of all, the participants were asked to fill a 24-hour food questionnaire twice.

Perhaps most alarming is that the study found that those who took high levels of supplemental calcium over prolonged periods of time may have an overall shorter life expectancy.

Associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and senior and corresponding author on the study Fang Zhang explained the motivation for the study, saying it is "important to understand the role that the nutrient and its source might play in health outcomes, particularly if the effect might not be beneficial".

Zhang and her colleagues found a lower risk of death from any cause among those who consumed adequate amounts of vitamin K and magnesium, and a lower risk of cardiovascular death among those with adequate intakes of vitamin A, vitamin K and zinc. "So we should go with what the dietary recommendations suggest to achieve adequate nutrition from food, rather than relying on supplements", he said.

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In fact, when it comes to taking supplements in general, researchers from Tufts University claim to have found "no association between dietary supplement use and a lower risk of [early] death".

The study looked at data from more than 27,000 US adults, 20 years old and up, to measure the links between dietary supplement use and death from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. They can't prove if the nutrients from food can lengthen your life, but people who adopt healthy diets live longer.

Intriguingly, supplement users were more likely than others to have higher levels of education and family income, eat a healthy diet and be physically active.

However, no link was found between increased consumption of foods containing calcium and the disease.

Consumed nutrients from vitamins and supplements may not be as effective in improving one's health compared with eating the right food for the needed nutrients, according to the study.

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