Vitamins Linked With Higher Death Risk in Older Women, Study Finds
MINNEAPOLIS – Older women who take dietary supplements, including multivitamins, may be at an increased risk of death, according to a joint US and Finnish study.
A 19-year analysis of almost 39,000 women found that those who took dietary supplements including multivitamins, vitamin B6, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc and copper were at a higher risk of death than women who did not.
The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, was undertaken by researchers at the University of Minnesota and the University of Eastern Finland.
“Based on existing evidence, we see little justification for the general and widespread use of dietary supplements,” the authors wrote. “We recommend that they be used with strong medically-based cause, such as symptomatic nutrient deficiency disease.”
They found that only the women who took calcium supplements displayed a reduced risk of dying.
The reasons for the link between taking multivitamins and an increased risk of dying were not clear, the researchers said.
Doctors Goran Bjelakovic of the University of Nis in Serbia and Christian Gluud of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark wrote in an accompanying commentary that the findings “add to the growing evidence demonstrating that certain antioxidant supplements, such as vitamin E, vitamin A, and beta-carotene, can be harmful.”
They added, “We cannot recommend the use of vitamin and mineral supplements as a preventive measure, at least not in a well-nourished population.”
However, Bjelakovic and Gluud said that vitamin D3 may be beneficial to older women, and possibly older men, if they do not already get enough through their diet or from sun exposure.
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