Vitamin and mineral supplements will not help your health, says study

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Researchers say that common vitamin and mineral supplements provide no health benefit at all.

On the plus side, they're also not ordinarily going to hurt you, either, the University of Toronto and St. Michael's Hospital-based researchers concluded.

The review showed no advantage or added risk when it came to preventing heart attacks, strokes, cardiovascular disease, or premature death. The supplements examined included vitamins A, B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folic acid), C, D, E, beta-carotene, and the minerals calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium and selenium. Alternatively, it could be something to do with the fact that people sometimes think taking vitamins can be a substitute for a healthy, balanced diet when they are not.

Only folic acid and B-vitamins with folic acid were found to help reduce cardiovascular disease and stroke. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommend three diets to reduce heart disease risk: a healthy American diet low in saturated fat, trans fat and red meat, but high in fruit and vegetables; a Mediterranean diet; and a vegetarian diet. The participants were people who took better care of their health, so the extra supplements did nothing to improve their lives.

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For the review, Jenkins and his co-authors analyzed the results of 179 randomized controlled trials (considered the gold standard for medical studies) on the effect of vitamin and mineral supplement use on cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease, stroke and other conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels.

But some others, like niacin and antioxidants, could actually cause harm. They also found that excess folic acid in daily supplements can also be linked to prostate cancer.

Dr Ian Musgrave from the University of Adelaide said that the findings of the study were not really unexpected or surprising for him. In the United States in 2012, it was estimated that 52 percent of the population was taking supplements, 31 percent were taking multivitamins, 19 percent were taking vitamin D, 14 percent were taking calcium and 12 percent were taking vitamin C. Clearly, we think they're good for us. A recent research developed by Canadian scientists revealed these products brought no actual benefit to our health and, in some cases, they might even be harmful.

ODS offers the following caution for consumers of dietary supplements: "Supplements should not replace prescribed medications or the variety of foods important to a healthful diet".

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