Some of you may have seen on the news last night or read in the paper this morning about a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine on multivitamins and other nutritional supplements. One typical headline screamed, “Vitamins Tied to Higher Death Rates in Older Women…”
Folks, this stuff may increase nightly news ratings and sell newspapers, but in the end it’s doing more harm than good.
In case you aren’t familiar with the study and its findings, researchers followed approximately 40,000 women whose ages were 55-69 at the start of the study for an average of 19 years. Based on questionnaires these women filled out in 1986, 1997, and 2004 and comparing them with death rates, they determined that the women who took certain nutritional supplements had a slightly increased risk of death.
Let’s look at some other critical findings:
1. The most significant risk was with supplemental iron, which was associated with a 3.9 percent increased risk of death. This isn’t news. It is well known that excess iron is linked with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and other conditions and should be taken only by individuals diagnosed with anemia.
2. The calculated overall risk of death was only slightly higher among the women who took multivitamins: 40.8% vs 39.8%.
3. The study design was observational, meaning it did not allow the researchers to determine any specific causes for the slightly increased mortality among those reporting to take certain nutrients.
Nothing in this study compels me to change my recommendations regarding nutritional supplements. An editorial piece published along with the study suggests we should get be able to get adequate vitamins and minerals from diet alone—yet large government studies reveal tremendous gaps in the average American diet and widespread nutritional deficiencies.
Here’s the bottom line: Don’t stop taking your supplements. Other more credible research clearly demonstrates the value of targeted nutritional supplementation. You can find my complete daily nutrient recommendations here on my website.
Now it’s your turn: Which nutrients do you take?
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