Study Says Vitamins Could Increase Women’s Risk Of Dying

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vitaminsPopping vitamins may do more harm than good, according to a new study that adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting some supplements may have health risks.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota examined data from more than 38,000 women taking part in the Iowa Women’s Health Study, an ongoing study with women who were around age 62 at its start in 1986. The researchers collected data on the women’s supplement use in 1986, 1997 and 2004.

Women who took supplements had, on average, a 2.4 percent increased risk of dying over the course of the 19-year study, compared with women who didn’t take supplements, after the researchers adjusted for factors including the women’s age and calorie intake.

“Our study, as well as other similar studies, have provided very little evidence that commonly used dietary supplements would help to prevent chronic diseases,” said study author Jaakko Mursu, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

“We would advise people to reconsider whether they need to use supplements, and put more emphasis on a healthy diet instead,” Mursu said.

A toxic combination?

The new study linked a number of individual vitamins and minerals to the slight mortality risk, including multivitamins, vitamin B6, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc and copper.

For example, of the 12,769 women in the study who took a daily multivitamin, 40.8 percent had died by the end of 2008, whereas 39.8 percent of the 10,161 women who hadn’t taken a daily multivitamin had died.

Mursu said that the design of the study did not allow the researchers to determine if there was a specific cause for the increased mortality.

“However, we do know that most compounds are toxic in high amounts, and long-term use might predispose [a person] to detrimental outcomes,” he told MyHealthNewsDaily.

The increased chance of dying” could be related to generally high concentration of compounds that these supplements contain. Most supplements contain higher amounts of nutrients than would be derived from food, and it is known that several compounds can be toxic in higher amounts, especially when consumed for a long time, as some of these accumulate to body,” Mursu said.

Taking calcium supplements, on the other hand, actually seemed to lower the women’s death risk slightly, by 3.8 percent, although the researchers noted that there was not a relationship between consuming increasingly higher amounts of calcium and a continuing decrease in mortality rate.

Less is more

While vitamins and minerals are necessary for proper nutrition, excess intake has not shown further benefit, and recent studies have cast some doubt on the idea that vitamin supplements provide a “safety net” for people not getting enough of a given nutrient. Instead, too much may be a problem.

The study, published today (Oct. 10) in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, is part of a series examining interventions in medicine that may be unnecessary.

“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,” wrote Dr. Goran Bjelakovic and Dr. Christian Gluud, of the Center for Clinical Intervention Research at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark in an accompanying commentary.

“We believe that for all micronutrients, risks are associated with insufficient and too-large intake. Low levels of intake increase the risk of deficiency. High levels of intake increase the risk of toxic effects and disease,” they wrote.

“Therefore, we believe that politicians and regulatory authorities should wake up to their responsibility to allow only safe products on the market,” they wrote.

{Live Science.com/Matzav.com Newscenter}

19 COMMENTS

  1. If you are familiar with research techniques, you’ll recognize this as a “correlational study,” which can’t by itself establish causality.

    It could be equally likely that people with health problems – and therefore a higher death rate – tend to take more vitamins in an effort to improve their health.

    Better not chuck that vitamin bottle yet. Best thing is to ask your doctor about it. Or, better yet, his nurse, because nurses tend to have better nutritional training than doctors.

  2. This is bad advice. People need to target use high quality supplements to target specific needs. My sister’s Parkinsons symtoms are significantly lessened with high powered co-q 10. My 87 yr old mother’s eyesight is returning with specialized eye vitamins.

  3. Well I guess they never saw Shaklee’s Landmark clinical study (among over 90 other clinical studies) which was done over twenty years. University of berkeley California compared Shaklees multi supplement users to other vitamin users and those that used non at all. After 20 years when they were over 50 yrs old, Shaklee vitamin users were remarkably healthier, with all the proper blood levels for excellent cardiovascular health. So I guess this study was on other vitamin companies, not Shaklee…

  4. I’m no scientist but to me, the following statement suggests a flawed analysis: “For example, of the 12,769 women in the study who took a daily multivitamin, 40.8 percent had died by the end of 2008, whereas 39.8 percent of the 10,161 women who hadn’t taken a daily multivitamin had died.” If both sets of women are not set up in the study to have an equal number of subjects, with the non-vitamin taker group having 2,600 less participants,how do they know if they’d have had another 2,600 people they wouldn’t have had another 127 people who had died and the two groups would have the same result? I understand that proportionately it shouldn’t matter whether the two groups were of different sizes but I’d think they would want to eliminate as many variables as possible. Also, a 1 percent difference does not seem a significant enough variation to indicate cause and effect. Is this 1 percent after the margin of error is deducted? I imagine the margin of error would be at least 1 percent.

  5. Actually, vitamins do not increase a woman’s chances of dying. No matter how many vitamins a woman takes, she is still going to die 100% of the time.

  6. If you are going to ask your doctor then you might as well ask your building contractor. As many doctors themselves will attest to if asked, most have no real training or sufficient knoledge about vitamin supplements to give sound advice. Better to ask a competent nutritionist who has the training and knowledge and is up to date with the latest clinical studies. Random news articles like the above tend to confuse people and are possibly keeping people from being helped. Please help yourself by becoming knowledgeable for yourself so you can make an informed judgement before dismissing supplemental nutrition out of hand.

  7. Noteworthy is the fact that the FDA or whoever is in charge of dealing with foods, etc., wants to take organics off the market and vitamins, where the consumer will have to get prescription for vitamins. The vitamins mentioned above such as B-6, etc. should never be taken separately as is it can be toxic. Only a B-complex can be taken (B-complex is important because the body gets rid of the B vitamins daily) and is an important vitamin, since most people are stressed out, drink coffee and many who smoke. Any mineral should only be taken in very small quantities. Minerals are dangerous unless taken in minute amounts. Most importantly, people should have some knowledge and be informed of what he/she really needs to supplement themselves with, because each individual is different and might be deficient in one area while not in another; plain common sense. Multi-vitamins make no sense. but ‘everything’ has to be done with sechel and if someone has questions, they should ask a doctor/nutritionist. Believe, this is the way they will get people to get used to stop buying vitamins. Important is that people shouldn’t just pop pills but use their common sense. We have to remember that today’s food is extremely deficient in nutrients and vitams are an important plus.

  8. One of the doctors whom I consulted with once told me an awesome principle in navigating through the world:

    “Facts don’t lie, but, you can lie with facts.”

    This particular news story, which has been very widely promoted in the general media, is certainly a 1,000 % example of this rule.

    A research project, called the “Iowa Women’s Health Study” was done by the University of Minnesota. Its results were that “Women who took supplements had, on average, a 2.4 percent increased risk of dying over the course of the 19-year study, compared with women who didn’t take supplements.”

    “For example, of the 12,769 women in the study who took a daily multivitamin, 40.8 percent had died by the end of 2008, whereas 39.8 percent of the 10,161 women who hadn’t taken a daily multivitamin had died.”

    So with these “facts,” the national media is suddenly blasting:

    “Study Says Vitamins Could Increase Women’s Risk of Dying” and “Popping vitamins may do more harm than good, according to a new study that adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting some supplements may have health risks.”

    Again, the title is: “Study Says Vitamins Could Increase Women’s Risk of Dying.” Further in, towards the end of the article is the statement: “‘Until recently, the available data regarding the adverse effects of dietary supplements has been limited and grossly underreported.'” Finally, the article concludes with its recommendation: “‘Therefore, we believe that politicians and regulatory authorities should wake up to their responsibility to allow only safe products on the market.'”

    Yep, well here it is, the call to arms:

    “OOOO!!” “OOOO!!” “OOOO!!”

    “VITAMINS ARE BAD!!”

    “OOOO!!” “OOOO!!” “OOOO!!”

    “VITAMINS KILL PEOPLE!!”

    “OOOO!!” “OOOO!!” “OOOO!!”

    “DON’T TAKE VITAMINS!!”

    “OOOO!!” “OOOO!!” “OOOO!!”

    “THE CONGRESS AND THE PRESIDENT SHOULD GET WITH IT ALREADY AND, ONCE AND FOR ALL, THEY SHOULD ABSOLUTELY COMPLETELY OUTLAW ALL THEM VITAMINS!!”

    “OOOO!!” “OOOO!!” “OOOO!!”

    “EVERYONE!!” “GET YOUR AXES AND YOUR TORCHES READY, AND LET’S GO, AND LET’S GET RID OF ALL THEM VITAMINS!!!!”

    “OOOO!!!!” “OOOO!!!!” “OOOO!!!!”

  9. (continuation of my previous comment)

    Of course, all of this hateful venom is so full of absolute fabrications and sick distortions of the (so-called) “facts” — there are so many lies here that I do not even know where to begin!

    I mean when we start reading this article, we see that right in the very first sentence, there is already a bit of a contradiction. Again, the title is: “Study Says Vitamins Could Increase Women’s Risk of Dying,” and the first sentence opens with the words: “Popping vitamins may do more harm than good . . . ” Implied in these words is that ALL vitamins are bad. However, this same sentence finishes with the words: ” . . . evidence suggesting some supplements may have health risks.” Please, let us repeat that: ” . . . SOME supplements may have health risks” (emphasis mine). This clearly seems to say that only SOME supplements have a problem.

    This inference is present again in the sentence five paragraphs later, which begins: “The new study linked A NUMBER OF INDIVIDUAL VITAMINS AND MINERALS to the slight mortality risk, including . . . ” (emphasis mine).

  10. (continuation of my previous comment)

    Therefore, I am greatly heartened that, Boruch Hashem, nine people have already posted here very excellent incisive observations on the subject. Ah! So, B’Ezras Hashem, let us start with Comment number 7 from “Confused,” which brilliantly shows that there are not really many “facts” here to begin with! (We will quote the full remark.):

    “I’m no scientist but to me, the following statement suggests a flawed analysis: ‘For example, of the 12,769 women in the study who took a daily multivitamin, 40.8 percent had died by the end of 2008, whereas 39.8 percent of the 10,161 women who hadn’t taken a daily multivitamin had died.’ If both sets of women are not set up in the study to have an equal number of subjects, with the non-vitamin taker group having 2,600 less participants, how do they know if they’d have had another 2,600 people they wouldn’t have had another 127 people who had died and the two groups would have the same result? I understand that proportionately it shouldn’t matter whether the two groups were of different sizes but I’d think they would want to eliminate as many variables as possible.”

    “Also, a 1 percent difference [i.e. 40.8% – 39.8% = 1% (Y. F.)] does not seem a significant enough variation to indicate cause and effect. Is this 1 percent after the margin of error is deducted? I imagine the margin of error would be at least 1 percent.”

  11. Don’t you get it? This is the latest media distortion which eventually becomes ‘truth’, because the whole intention is ‘getting vitamins and supplements off the market’. They want to be considered as drugs so they can only be available by prescription. There have been a number of articles already written about this eventual move which they have in mind. More rules and regulations.

  12. (continuation of my previous comment #13)

    Furthermore, the report related here is that in this study, there were 12,769 women “who took a daily multivitamin.” Now, the obvious question is “Which multivitamin did the women take?” For there are literally countless thousands of different multivitamins! This fact cannot be repeated enough: there are literally countless THOUSANDS of different multivitamins. Each one of these multivitamins is made with its own unique formulation of ingredients. The unique formulation of ingredients for each multivitamin is determined by several different factors:

    1.) Which particular nutrients are being selected for this particular multivitamin.

    2.) What is the amount of each nutrient that is being used in this multivitamin.

    3.) What is the source of each nutrient that is being used in this multivitamin and what particular process is being used in the production of each nutrient.

    4.) Besides the nutrients, what other substances — colorings, coatings, binders, flavorings, etc. — are being used in the production of this multivitamin.

  13. (continuation of my previous comment)

    This last consideration leads into a wider very crucial fundamental consideration. Part of it was already pointed out in Comment number 6 from “Shaklee vitamins?,” which relates how a scientific study done by the University of California showed that people who used vitamins manufactured by the company “Shaklee” had very good results. In other words, we see that different nutrient producing companies produce nutrients of different degrees of quality.

    A very major consideration of this phenomenon is that very many companies that manufacture vitamins USE ARTIFICIAL SYNTHETIC SUBSTANCES in their processing. Especially for the colorings, coatings, binders, flavorings, etc., all kinds of artificial chemicals are used. You can see these mentioned on the list of the ingredients; names like “Red Dye No. xx” and “U.S. Yellow Dye No. zz,” are very common entries on these lists. The companies that produce these synthetic vitamins are able to charge very reasonable prices for their products, and these cheaply priced (artificial) vitamins are thus especially sold at the famous large super-discount stores.

    The truth though is that these artificial vitamins — which are full of toxic substances — are not good products at all. The benefit from using them is quite limited, and, on the contrary, their prolonged use can even cause harm. Therefore, the professional practitioners of the natural healing professions will strongly discourage their use. Instead, they will advise their patients to purchase — albeit much more expensive — nutrients from special natural health care oriented companies, which manufacture totally natural products with excellent professional quality.

    So this study that was done by the University of Minnesota, wherein the women who were taking vitamins seemed to die earlier, the crucial question needs to be asked: “Which brand(s) of vitamins were the women using?” Were they using a high quality brand of purely natural and organically produced nutrients? Or, were they using cheap brand(s) of low quality synthetically produced vitamins, which, yes, may have actually helped CAUSE the earlier passings?

    So again, before the media goes around blabbing these blanket accusations that “vitamins” are “bad,” please, yes, please, could they kindly show me exactly WHICH vitamins the study was about?

  14. The wider context of these blatant accusations and attacks against nutritional supplements are the implications that vitamins are “bad,” while “regular” medications are “good.”

    The actual truth though, is quite different. This is, of course, an extremely vast subject, but, B’Ezras Hashem, we will relate a few general key items.

    Almost all so-called “regular” pharmaceutical drugs are, from top to bottom, completely synthetic products. Besides the actual medicine substance itself, each medicine pill, or tablet, or capsule, or soft gel, or cream, or liquid contains numerous artificial colorings, coatings, binders, stabilizers, preservatives, flavorings, etc. The medicine itself is often an entirely new chemical creation, which is made to force the body into very unnatural states. As such, almost all “regular” pharmaceutical medications are highly poisonous dangerous items, which can, Chas V’Shalom, gravely harm or even bring death to those who ingest them.

    AND THE REGULAR MEDICAL AND PHARMACEUTICAL PROFESSIONS FULLY RECOGNIZE AND ADMIT THIS!!

    Therefore, when they prescribe or recommend a particular drug, they give strict instructions to the patient to only use what are (relatively) very small amounts of it. In other words, they are trying to give the patient what they estimate will be a LARGE enough amount of the medicine that will stop the particular illness problem, but, is also what they estimate will be such a SMALL amount of the poisonous medicine that the harm that it will do will be very minimal and not long lasting. This minimal bit of harm that will come is termed the “side effects” of the medication.

    However, there have been countless incidents with numerous medications where, Lo Alaynu – it should not happen to us, people had severe harm or even died from using just the “small” (supposedly) “safe” prescribed amount! These problems are present with several of the “standard” vaccinations, which have become a “standard” part of our modern lives.

    For just one example, see:

    http://www.wddty.com/mmr-vaccine-isn-t-safe-after-all-uk-government-forced-to-concede.html
    and
    http://www.wddty.com/mmr-parents-sue-after-children-develop-brain-damage.html.

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