Are Your Supplements Putting You At Risk?

Older women who take dietary supplements, including multivitamins, folic acid, iron and others, may be at greater risk for early death, according to a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers in Finland and the United States studied more than 38,000 women at the average age of 61, who reported their supplement use in 1986, 1997 and 2004. Not surprisingly, supplement use grew substantially during that time, from 62.7 percent of women taking at least one daily supplement in 1986 to 85.1 percent doing so in 2004.

While many people take dietary supplements with hopes of living longer and more healthfully, the researchers found that some supplement use actually correlated with earlier death for some women in the study. Multivitamins, B6, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc and copy all seemed to increase death risk during the duration of study. Calcium supplements, however, were associated with less mortality risk during the same time frame. Iron seemed to be the most troublesome.

"Based on existing evidence, we see little justification for the general and widespread use of dietary supplements," the authors concluded. "We recommend that they be used with strong medically based cause, such as symptomatic nutrient deficiency disease.

Will this news play a role in how you take supplements?