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Some Vitamins May Increase Risk for Death

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A Finnish study published in the October 10 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine claims that some widely used vitamins and minerals can increase risk of death.

The study looked at the long-term effects of multivitamin and mineral supplementation in older women, aged between 55 to 69 years. A total of 38,772 women were included in the study that started in 1986 and continued for 22 years.

The use of multivitamins overall was associated with 2.4% increased absolute risk for death (hazard ratio, 1.06; 95% confidence interval, 1.02 - 1.10). Other supplements were associated with the following increases in the risk of death: vitamin B6 (4.1%), folic acid (5.9%), iron [>50 mg per day] (3.9%), magnesium (3.6%), zinc (3.0%), and copper (18.0%).

It's not all bad news though. Those taking calcium supplements had a 3.8% reduced risk of death. The calcium benefit ended, however, when taking more than 900 mg per day from supplements. It's worth considering then, if taking calcium supplements is indeed necessary, as it may be too widely prescribed as present.

In conclusion authors add that while they cannot rule out the benefits of supplements, such as improved quality of life, their study does raise concerns regarding their long-term safety. This adds to growing evidence against the use of certain antioxidant supplements, such as vitamin E, vitamin A, and beta-carotene.

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