Vitamin Supplements Don’t Help Extend Life, Research Finds

On Monday, researchers from Tufts University reported that dietary supplements do not lead to a longer life, but could actually shorten life when consumed at a high level. While some nutrients might make a contribution to extending life, they have to come from natural food sources.

At the time when many wellness sites, social influencers, and celebrities are selling vitamin supplement products, the new finding shows evidence that these options aren’t helpful to most people. A study in 2018 from Birmingham University had found mineral supplements and multivitamins don’t protect the body against heart diseases.

“Based on the evidence in the study, it is becoming clearer that the frequent consumption of dietary supplements won’t help to minimize the risks of mortality in most people,” said Dr. Fang Zhang – the coauthor of the study. “However, we need further research to find out long-term applications of supplements. Also, it would be worth discovering whether these products can be useful for those people who experience nutritional deficiencies.”

As more than 50 percent of the US adults are consuming dietary supplements, researchers of the study explored the effects of these products based on data from more than 27,700 people participating in the Nutrition and Health Examination Survey. They are all more than 20 years old.

These participants had completed a 24-hour questionnaire two times. Additionally, they had to answer if they took any dietary during the last 30 days. If yes, they would be asked more for details about the frequency of consumption. More than 50 percent of the participants used dietary supplements in the last 30 days, while 38 percent used mineral and multivitamin supplements.

Surprisingly, supplement users tended to have higher family income and education levels, be adopt healthy diets and be active physically. Those factors are associated with reduced risks of morality.

Over the next 6 years, more than 3,600 participants of the study died due to cancer (805 cases) and cardiovascular diseases (945). Researchers saw lower risks of death from those who took sufficient amounts of magnesium and vitamin K, and lower risks of cardiovascular diseases among those people with sufficient consumption of zinc, vitamin K, and vitamin A. Excess intakes of calcium were related to higher risks of cancer death.

While researchers did see lower risks of death related supplements, the association became insignificant when other lifestyle factors such as drinking, smoking, and education are taken into account. This leads to the final conclusion stated in the study report.


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