People take vitamin supplements for health reasons but findings of a new study revealed that taking too much vitamins may have an opposite effect. A research involving thousands of people has found that taking more than the recommended dose of vitamins could increase a person's risk of developing deadly diseases.

People who eat more fruits and vegetables were more likely to have lower odds of developing cancer. In a new study presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, Tim Byers, from the University of Colorado Cancer Center, and colleagues, investigated if taking extra vitamins and minerals through supplements could reduce the risks of cancer further.

The researchers said that when dietary supplements were first tested in animal models, the findings were promising. When they moved on to studying thousands of patients over a period of 10 years, however, they found that instead of boosting people's health, taking too much vitamin supplements can actually raise people's risks of developing fatal diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

In one trial involving beta-keratin supplements, for instance, the research team discovered that taking more dose than recommended increases the odds of heart disease and lung cancer by 20 percent.

Byer's team also looked at folic acid supplements, which are taken by thousands of women per year as it is known to help prevent birth defects that affect the brain and the spine. The researchers found that taking too much folic acid supplements raises the odds of developing cancer by 56 percent.

Folic acid is also taken to lessen the number of polyps in the colon. However, in one trial, it was revealed that it actually increases the number of polyps.

Byers pointed out that some people even got more cancer when they were taking vitamins. Nonetheless, he stressed that their findings do not mean that vitamin supplements are dangerous albeit taking too many of them may have unwanted health consequences.

"This is not to say that people need to be afraid of taking vitamins and minerals," Byers said. "If taken at the correct dosage, multivitamins can be good for you. But there is no substitute for good, nutritional food."

People can get their recommended dose of vitamins and mineral by eating healthy foods. The researchers said that many of those who take vitamin supplements do not actually need them. 

Photo:Bradley Stemke | Flickr 

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