Should You Quit Taking Vitamins? Could They Be Shortening Your Life?
Have you heard of the study that found people who take multivitamins may actually be shortening their lives. Sometimes you hear reports like this that are presented for shock value. Then you dig a little deeper and realize the study may not have been as thorough as you’d like. I have done my best over the years to take a multivitamin and I don’t plan to stop based on this latest report and here is why:
1. The Study Was Observational.
This means that researchers followed a group of people over time, but didn’t test the supplement group against a placebo group. Although researchers did carefully control for factors such as age, diabetes, physical activity, high blood pressure, and a few dietary habits, even they say the findings should be interpreted with caution. There may be factors they didn’t account for that skewed the results, admits lead author Jaakko Mursu, Ph.D., of the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Minnesota.
2. The Study Followed a Group of Older Women.
Average age: 62. That’s not quite a representative sample of the population. Plus, it’s been well established that iron supplements increase the risk of heart disease in post-menapausal women (which is why there’s no iron in Centrum Silver and other multi’s formulated for older adults). And copper—which can be toxic in large amounts—is prevalent in many natural foods, such as vegetables and nuts, so few people need large doses of supplementation.
3. People Who Take Vitamins Generally Make Poorer Health Choices.
A study in Psychological Science earlier this year found that the perceived benefits of multivitamins may cause many people to cheat on their diets and workout routines. “Taking dietary supplements increases perceived invulnerability,” Wen-Bin Chiou, Ph.D., a professor at National Sun Yat-Sen University and author of the study, told Men’s Health. In other words: It’s not the vitamins that are harmful; it’s the life choices people make while taking vitamins. So, you know, don’t do that
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