In a recent study, researchers from the Friedman School of
Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University disclosed two shocking findings:
One, that a sufficient intake of certain nutrients from food, not supplements, is
linked to a lower risk of early death; and two, that consuming too much of some
nutrients in supplement form may be harmful.
"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," said Fang Fang Zhang, MD, PhD, associate professor at Tufts
University and senior and corresponding author on the study. Moreover, findings
suggest that "excess intake from supplements could be harmful," the
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In fact, as LiveScience reports, high levels of calcium from
supplements (at least 1,000 milligrams per day) was linked to an increased risk
of death from cancer. There was no link between intake of calcium from food and
risk of death from cancer.
The study analyzed information taken from more than 27,000
adults in the US ages 20 and up who opted into a national health survey between
1999 and 2010. For around six years, on average, participants were asked about
what they ate in the last 24 hours and whether they had taken supplements in
the last 30 days. During the study period, about 3,600 people died; and of
these, 945 died from heart disease and 805 died from cancer.
Results revealed that those who consume adequate amounts of
vitamin K (magnesium) had a lower risk of death from any cause during the study
period when compared to those who didn’t. And those who consumed sufficient levels
of vitamin A, vitamin K, zinc or copper had a lower risk of death from heart
disease compared to those who did not. But, here’s the important part: Only the
nutrients consumed from food, not supplements, were tied to lower risk of death
or heart disease.
It’s important to note that researchers also relied
on self-reports from participants which may not be entirely accurate. Future
studies should continue to examine the potential risks and benefits of supplements.