Two more studies suggest that taking vitamin supplements may do more harm than good.

The conventional wisdom for years has been that if you want to stay healthy you should take vitamin supplements every day, but a growing body of evidence is showing that, not only is it not necessary, it could be damaging to your health:

More Evidence Against Vitamin Use – NYTimes.com.

“You go back 15 or 20 years, and there were thoughts that antioxidants of all sorts might be useful,” said Dr. Eric Klein, a Cleveland Clinic physician and national study coordinator for the prostate cancer and vitamin E study. “There really is not any compelling evidence that taking these dietary supplements above and beyond a normal dietary intake is helpful in any way, and this is evidence that it could be harmful.”

This is particularly true for people who take high doses of vitamins because they think that if a little of it is good then a lot of it must be better.

Among the women in the Iowa study, about 63 percent used supplements at the start of the study, but that number had grown to 85 percent by 2004. Use of multivitamins, vitamin B6, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc and copper were all associated with increased risk of death. The findings translate to a 2.4 percent increase in absolute risk for multivitamin users, a 4 percent increase associated with vitamin B6, a 5.9 percent increase for folic acid, and increases of 3 to 4 percent in risk for those taking supplements of iron, folic acid, magnesium and zinc.

“Based on existing evidence, we see little justification for the general and widespread use of dietary supplements,” the authors wrote.

If you eat reasonable meals with a wide variety of foods then you’re already getting what you need in the way of vitamins. Really, the only time you should be taking supplements is when you have a vitamin deficiency and are instructed to do so by your doctor. As you can see above the increased risks aren’t huge, but there’s no point in taking the risk at all if there’s no benefit to be gained from it.

13 thoughts on “Two more studies suggest that taking vitamin supplements may do more harm than good.

  1. Some multi-vitamins amount to an overdose. For example. typical multi-vitamins have 250-300% of recommended doses of Vitamin E and selenium (the focus of one of the studies cited). Most multi-vitamins have 100+% of a vitamin, as if you’re not going to eat anything nutritious at all and get your only source of vitamins from the pill. Good luck finding a multi-vitamin that is truly supplemental and complemetary.

  2. WAAAIIITT A MINUTE! You telling me that Faith-Based Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation may be BAD for my health????

    😉 😆

    Peace.

  3. Only a complete brainwashed zero would buy into what those studies say. The insanity of the studies if you were to follow it out to the obvious conclusion. We should eat plenty of white refined bread, rice and sugar. That we should also be thankful for the junk food in fast food restaurants for serving all their health enhancing vitamin and mineral lacking foods. We should eat heaps of donuts and candy bars and wash it all down with plenty of homogenized milk so we can avoid all those health problems and an early death from vitamins and minerals. The FDA should be sued for forcing companies to enrich refined foods with vitamins thereby causing the early deaths of our citizens.

    And maybe if we if we humbly say we are sorry to Monsanto for calling them the killers of millions of innocent victims and the destroyer of our environment they will develop some special GMO crops for us. You know, ones that have zero vitamins and minerals so we can all live very long and healthy lives in Monsanto Land. Spraying Roundup on any organic vitamin and mineral rich vegetables we happen to come across.

    Doc Blake

  4. ‘Dr’ Blake, I suggest you leave the science to the real doctors. Then again, as a nutritionist it is not in your interest for people to take heed of these studies is it?

    If these scientific studies show that these tendencies then you cannot argue with the facts. I would suggest that instead of your ‘rant’ if you want to discredit the study then you actually read it and find the flaw in their methods or data.

  5. Les

    Dr Blake’s name in his post links back to his website where he is selling naturopathic ‘remedies’.

    He is trying to peddle his own wares.

  6. Shaidar, I’m aware of the link in the good “Dr.’s” comment. I debated marking the whole thing as spam, but wanted to let the world see his bullshit. Also considered editing out the link, but decided against it because A) most of the folks who come here regularly already know he’s full of shit and B) it won’t help his page rank as WordPress puts a nofollow tag in it.

    @ Dr. Paul Blake, N.D.: Got any more false dichotomies you’d like to post?

  7. If your little brain washed egos can handle it try reading what was conveniently left out of this “observational survey study.”

    The study is entitled “Dietary Supplements and Mortality Rate in Older Women” – Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(18):1625-1633

    Study data were ALTERED!
    One of the most glaring total fabrications in this particular study is the alteration of the raw data using statistical voodoo. If you go to table 2 of the study (page 4 of the study PDF, which we can’t post here because it’s not a public document), it shows a “Hazard Ratio” number associated with each of the nutrients covered in the study, such as vitamin D, vitamin D, calcium, copper, iron, and so on. There’s also a number associated with “multivitamin.”

    With these numbers, a 1.0 means “neutral” or “no increase in mortality.” A number below 1.0 — such as 0.92 — means a reduction in mortality. For example, 0.92 would mean an 8% reduction in mortality associated with that particular vitamin.

    A number higher than 1.0 means an “increase” in mortality. So something like 1.15 would mean a 15% increase in total mortality.

    So what do these numbers really say?

    • Vitamin B complex was associated with a 7% reduction in mortality

    • Vitamin C was associated with a 4% reduction in mortality

    • Vitamin D was associated with an 8% reduction in mortality

    • Magnesium was associated with a 3% reduction in mortality

    • Selenium was associated with a 3% reduction in mortality

    • Zinc was associated with a 3% reduction in mortality

    I bet you didn’t read that in the mainstream media, huh? That’s because they never reported these numbers! Once again, they just cherry picked whatever scary data they wanted to show you while ignoring the rest.

    On the negative side of the findings:

    • Folic acid was associated with a 9% increase in mortality

    • Copper was associated with a 31% increase in mortality

    “Multivitamins,” which the mainstream media viciously attacked with their lying whore headlines, were associated with — guess what? — only a two percent increase in mortality.

    Ref http://www.naturalnews.com/033883_vitamins_mortality_risk.html#ixzz1b6qIGWFV

    Your Favorite Doctor
    Dr. Paul Blake, N.D.

  8. Right, because the mainstream media has a vested interest in damaging the multibillion dollar dietary supplement industry which provides them with much expensive advertising.

    You get that tin-foil hat custom fitted or is it homemade?

  9. Hey Les, I wasn’t being critical of you and sorry if it came over that way.

    Dr Paul. From your first post I thought you had a problem with the study. From your latest post the problem you have is not the study but the media representation of the results. Cool, so you agree with the study, excellent.

    I guess media varies. I originally read about this on the BBC news website and they did mention that some vitamins are good and some are bad.

    I don’t think anybody is saing you shouldn’t get your vitamins and minerals

    At the end of the day you need a balanced diet and too much of any substance (whatever the source) can possiblly be bad for you. People need to research and learn how to look critically at what they find so they can dismiss unsubstantiated health claims.

  10. Shaidar, didn’t think you were being critical. I appreciate you helping to keep the comment spam to a minimum. 🙂

  11. “Dr. Blake” may be trying to sell his own BS products, but as a scientist, I can tell you that studies like the one mentioned are simply experiments that show weak and most likely completely meaningless correlations.

    The fact is that there is no real money in selling vitamins, otherwise the big drug corporations would be selling them instead of the expensive patented drugs they DO sell. If you think these drugs are effective, compare our lifespans and general level of health with other Western countries such as Denmark. We fall far short, especially with obesity.

    Newspapers and “real doctors” (MDs) spin that into cause and effect, followed by dire warnings, which is nonsense; but DOES make for a cool article with an eye catching headline.

    Finding correlations is easy. The famous textbook example is the correlation between ice cream cone sales in Chicago and drownings. There is a very strong correlation between the two. SO WHAT??

    Using the logic in that newspaper article quoted in your article, ice cream cone sales in Chicago should be banned because they increase your risk of drowning.

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