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Older Women and Supplements | Study Says Dietary Additions May Be Harmful

Dietary supplements may increase death in older women, according to a recent study.

The study, published in Archives of Internal Medicine, tracked 39,000 women over 19 years and found that those who took supplements like multivitamins, vitamin B6, folic acid, magnesium, zinc, copper and iron had a higher death rate than those who did not take supplements.

The average age of the women in the study was 62.

The only reported supplement not shown to have risks for increased death was calcium.

The highest risk of death was reported in those women who took iron supplements.

According to MSN Health, “the study found an association between supplement use and health risks, but did not prove a cause-and-effect.”

Duffy MacKay, vice president for scientific and regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, cautioned against overreacting to the information. He believes that people who take supplements are more cognizant of being healthy than those who don’t take supplements.

“[These researchers] really do overstate the potential for harm, and understate any benefit. The researchers started out with the intention of identifying harm. I caution against making overstated assumptions and conclusions from this data,” Duffy said to MSN.

David Heber, director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, states, “I wouldn’t recommend anyone change what they’re doing based on this study. It’s very hard to conclude cause and effect.”

However, others state that the danger comes into play when people overuse supplements, when consumers believe that because they are used for health, the supplements cannot be bad for you. Unfortunately, even dietary supplements can be toxic when the “more is better” mentality is used.

So, should you continue taking dietary supplements? The best bet is to first speak to your personal physician about the issue and whether or not  you should continue your supplements.

Also, changes in diet by adding healthier foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and nuts and seeds may eliminate the need for dietary supplements.

Samantha Heller, dietitian and clinical nutrition coordinator for the Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital in Connecticut states,  “a supplement should be just that — a supplement to a healthy diet, not in place of a healthy diet.”


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[author_info]About the Author

Jacqueline Wilson is a prime parent who is a wife, mother, published author and freelance writer.  She writes here, on Prime Parents’ Club, and on her observational parenting humor blog, Writer Ramblings on Parenting Imperfectly. Follow her on Twitter as @WritRams and on her Facebook page.[/author_info]


Along with being a contributor to, Jacqueline Wilson is: Appalachia Advocate~Supporter of Women~Writer~Accidental Pit Bull Advocate.

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