Vitamins and Supplements May Not Be The Panacea To Good Health For Women

50% of Americans take vitamins and supplements. In 2003, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that roughly half of Americans reported taking at least one dietary supplement, creating nearly $20 billion in annual industry profits. And dietary supplement use becomes more common as people get older. The numbers of women who reported taking supplements increased over time — from 63 percent in 1986, to 75 percent in 1997 and 85 percent in 2004.
A recent study shows that for some women, especially older women, were at a slightly increased risk of death and increased risk of developing cancer. For the nutrient conscious, a daily capsule of vitamins and minerals might seem like a sure way to get all the necessary nutrients you could miss in your diet. But a new study from the Annals of Internal Medicine reports that those supplements may not be helpful, and in some cases, could even be harmful for older women.
The study looked at more than 38,000 women age 55 and older who participated in the study since the mid-1980s. The researchers found that when it came to reducing the risk of death, most supplements had no effect on women’s health.
In fact, women who took certain kinds of dietary supplements — vitamin B6, folic acid, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron and multivitamins — faced a slightly higher risk of death than women who did not. Only women who took supplemental calcium showed any reduction in their risk of death.
The findings add to a growing collection of research showing that people who take dietary supplements are getting few health benefits in return. I would conclude that supplements are not protective against chronic diseases.
Experts noted that supplements are beneficial for people who have some kind of nutritional deficiency, like anemia or osteoporosis. But many people who take dietary supplements are healthy and just want to be healthier.
Bottom Line: Based on this new study, people should be even a little more cautious now about taking these supplements. Before starting on a course of vitamins and supplements, speak to your doctor. The best way to ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need is still to eat a well-balanced diet.

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