These days, plenty of people reach for supplements to fulfill their nutritional needs, but new research reveals that this habit doesn't necessarily make a significant impact.
Contrary to popular belief, dietary supplements do not play a significant role in extending an individual's lifetime.
Dietary Supplements Not Associated With Lower Risk Of Death
While certain nutrients are shown to reduce mortality when taken as food, scientists say that there's actually no link between taking dietary supplements and a lower mortality rate, according to a study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
Furthermore, findings also show that excess calcium intake associated with supplemental calcium doses exceeding 1,000 mg per day is linked to an increased risk of cancer death.
"As potential benefits and harms of supplement use continue to be studied, some studies have found associations between excess nutrient intake and adverse outcomes, including increased risk of certain cancers," Fang Fang Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., senior author and associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, says in a statement. "It is important to understand the role that the nutrient and its source might play in health outcomes, particularly if the effect might not be beneficial."
Researchers Break Down Effects Of Dietary Supplements
The team used data from over 27,000 adults in the United States, all of whom were aged 20 years old or older.
By analyzing adequate and excess nutrient intake, the scientists determined whether they are linked to death from all causes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. In addition, they explored if these links are affected by the nutrient source: food versus supplements.
The researchers found that adequate intakes of vitamin K and magnesium are associated with lower risk of death, while adequate intakes of vitamin A, vitamin K, and zinc are associated with lower risk of death by cardiovascular diseases. Meanwhile, excess calcium is shown to increase risk of death from cancer.
When the team accounted for the nutrient source, they discovered that the reduced risk for death and death from cardiovascular diseases were only associated with nutrient intake from food, not supplements.
On the other hand, risk of death from cancer is only associated to excess calcium from dietary supplements, not from food.
Researchers also found that taking dietary supplements did not affect the risk of death of individuals with low nutrient intake.
"Our results support the idea that, while supplement use contributes to an increased level of total nutrient intake, there are beneficial associations with nutrients from foods that aren't seen with supplements," Zhang says. "This study also confirms the importance of identifying the nutrient source when evaluating mortality outcomes."