Adverse Effects of Vitamins
Written by Faith Anderson on October 11, 2011
Reason Behind Vitamin Risks Unclear
Researchers admit that the reasons behind their findings aren’t clear; they merely found a connection between vitamins and an increased risk of death, not evidence that supplements actually caused the deaths. “We saw an increased risk of total mortality, but we don’t really know what is the reason,” said lead author Jaakko Mursu, of the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Minnesota. The researchers did note that the study adds to an emerging body of research which suggests not only that vitamins might not help prevent disease, they may actually increase the risk of death.
In a commentary that accompanies the study, Dr. Goran Bjelakovic of the University of Nis in Siberia, and Dr. Christian Gluud of Copenhagen University in Denmark report that many people have the mistaken notion that if a little bit of vitamin supplementation is good, then more must be better. “Until recently, the available data regarding the adverse effects of dietary supplements has been limited and grossly underreported. We think the paradigm ‘the more the better’ is wrong,” they write. “We cannot recommend the use of vitamin and mineral supplements as a preventative measure, at least not in a well-nourished population.” Bjelakovic and Gludd note. Older women and perhaps men, however, may benefit from vitamin D supplements, especially if they have insufficient levels of vitamin D in their body, they conclude.
Adverse Effects of Dietary Supplements
The researchers involved in this new study found that, over the nineteen years of follow-up, 41% of multivitamin users died, compared to 40% of non-users. The results indicated that taking iron was particularly problematic; the more iron women took, the higher their risk of death. Only calcium supplements were associated with a lower risk of death, with 37% of users dying compared to 43% of non-users. The researchers note that previous research has shown that, in general, vitamin users tend to live healthier lifestyles. But they also say it’s possible that some women took vitamins to remedy health problems or fight diseases that may have influenced their death risk.