New Research on Supplement Efficacy

In a newly released study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers concluded that the use of dietary supplements are not associated with a decrease in death risk. This study looked at dietary survey results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The data included responses from over 30,000 individuals over an 11 year period.

Researchers found that supplement use was not associated with lower death rates. They did find intake of Vitamin A, K, magnesium, zinc, and copper was associated with a decreased risk of death and cardiovascular disease, however, the decreased risk was only seen when these vitamins and minerals came from food.

Excess calcium intake was found to increase cancer risk. This was true mostly in cases where excess intake was the result of supplement use.

Implications

The supplement market is expected to reach approximately $300 billion in annual sales by 2024. Supplement companies routinely market their products in a way that implies better performance and decreased disease risk. Research disproving these claims would slow down the explosive growth in this huge market.

The Bottom Line – Do vitamin/mineral supplements improve health?

Vitamin and mineral supplements do have a place in a well balanced diet. They probably can’t take the place of eating healthy foods, but they may be able to plug small holes in an otherwise solid diet. This study highlighted a decreased disease risk when vitamin and mineral intake came from food and only found negative health issues when excess intake came from supplement use.

A normal multivitamin supplement most likely will not cause excessive intakes. Avoid taking individual vitamin/mineral supplements as these products routinely contain 500% or more of your daily needs for a single nutrient. When choosing a multivitamin, check the nutrition label to ensure the product does not include over 100% daily need for any single nutrient.

Creating a healthy lifestyle remains the best way to improve overall health and lower disease risk:

  • Eat plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables
  • Limit intake of sugar, saturated fat, and sodium
  • Exercise regularly

References

  1. Chen, F., Du, M., Blumberg, J. B., Chui, K. K., Ruan, M. (2019). Association Among Dietary Supplement Use, Nutrient Intake, and Mortality Among U.S. AdultsAnnals of Internal Medicine. doi:10.7326/m18-2478
  2. Dietary Supplements Market Size Worth $278.02 Billion By 2024: Grand View Research, Inc. (2018, June 27). Retrieved from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/dietary-supplements-market-size-worth-27802-billion-by-2024-grand-view-research-inc-675250123.html
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