We all worry about out health- whether it’s by keeping up with the latest nutritional supplement or looking longingly at the promises of the latest diet pill. However, could those self-same nutritional supplements be causing a higher death rate themselves? We investigate this contradictory statement below.

Scientific study and data.

There’s been a recent study in older women which appears to link the use of certain nutritional supplements with an increased risk of death. However, there’s a valid point to be made here- this question is a little like asking ‘how long is a length of string’? The answer’s really hard to quantify. Research can guide us a lot, but it doesn’t provide cut and dried answers, nor is it always obvious what’s causation and what’s mere correlation.

So can we accept that finding at face value? The answer is no. Even the best designed scientific survey relies on the user in some way, and human memory and capability is flawed. In this case, participants self-reported their nutritional supplement use, leading to potential issues with memory. Let’s also not forget the other logical extrapolation that occurs- is it possible that people who are unwell to begin with are more biased towards using health supplements then those at the peak of health? It’s known as the ‘sick user’ effect in scientific studies. While good studies do provide controls for more obvious issues like diabetes and blood pressure, they can’t control for every health issues and illness out there.

Do multivitamin supplements increase mortality risk?

A balanced approach to the data.

This isn’t the only study that’s ever approached this issue, of course. Health supplements are a big industry and an easy target rolled into one, so they attract a lot of attention. For the most parts, studies tend to end up with inconclusive data, or the suggestion of a very tiny higher risk involved. There’s certainly no dramatic evidence for huge decline in mortality rate [or huge increase in the same] from the use of vitamins. However, certain individual nutritional supplements are contraindicated in high loading doses because of documented effects- for example, Vitamin E usage for cancer is contraindicated, as it can negatively affect your chances of contracting other forms of cancer. However, mega-dosing of vitamins and health supplements is a foolish strategy for the average person, anyway- it’s a case of taking it to the excess.read more information about the effects of vitamin C on your health at http://www.steelforce-bodybuilding.com/what-can-vitamin-c-do-for-your-health/

Why has the media not mentioned these?

It’s surprising these results, tepid as they are, haven’t attracted the media storm nutritional supplements usually do. It’s hard to ignore the fact that it’s a multi-billion dollar industry, and wonder if this has had some effect on the lack-lustre reporting on the matter.Click here to read an interesting statement issued by FDA that Dietary Supplements Could Contain Drug.

What’s the verdict?

In general, it’s best to take the following from the data floating around out there, and not to succumb to scare stories floating around the internet designed less to educate then to sell headlines:

  • Supplementation will never be better than gaining vitamins via a healthy diet, and may have side effects eating well doesn’t.
  • If you are not specifically recommended as having a deficiency by properly trained medical personnel, don’t overdose on individual vitamins. There’s little harm in a well balance multivitamin.
  • Beware of sales hype and over-selling. Everything in moderation gained from a good diet is better.

Overall, nutritional supplements may not be as useful as we were once led to believe [except in cases of genuine malnutrition] but neither are they as harmful as some reports suggest.