Multivitamins -- Dangerous For Older Women?

It is woven into American life; pop that daily multivitamin first thing every morning.  If we do nothing else, at least we're taking care of ourselves that way, right?  A new study says that we may be doing more harm than good in certain situations.

A new medical study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine that followed women who took a daily multivitamin.  The study's leader, Jaakko Mursu, at the University of Minnesota, reported that over the span of 19 years women who took vitamin supplements was  linked with a measurably higher risk of death.

The research followed a group of 38,000 women with an average age of 62.  Each participant reported their use of vitamins and supplements over the course of 19 years.  Some good news: women who took calcium had about a 10% lower chance of death compared to women who did not take calcium. Unfortunately, the other common supplements did not fare as well for the participants.

Supplemental Mortality?


Risk of Death
Compared to Non-users
Vitamin B10%

The study did not identify the cause of this increased mortality rate, just the correlation.  Mursu speculates that women may be taking too much of a supplement, turning a benefit into a detriment. In most cases, eating a well-balance diet is better, and safer, for you. 

If a doctor suggests a supplement to treat a specific medical condition such as anemia or a vitamin D deficiency, be sure to follow the doctor's dosage instructions and stop taking it when instructed.  Vitamins and minerals have an important role in maintaining your health. The body cannot produce calcium; so we must absorb it from out food. But other than a daily calcium supplement, try to follow good dietary guidelines and get your nutrients the old fashioned way: from food.  You just might live longer.

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