Vitamin and mineral supplements can be costly. Taking them regularly might make you feel like you’re leading a healthier lifestyle. But a number of research studies suggest that supplements aren’t always beneficial. Taking certain vitamin and mineral supplements may even do more harm than good.
For some people, vitamin and mineral supplements offer important health benefits. If you have certain health conditions or needs, your doctor may suggest adding a supplement to your daily routine. But people who take supplements as an “insurance policy” against poor eating habits might increase their risk of health problems.
So how do you know what’s right for you? The best way is to talk to your doctor before taking dietary supplements. If you’re already taking supplements, ask them if it’s a good choice to continue. On top of raising your risk of certain health problems, some supplements may interact with medications that you’re taking.
If a small amount of something is good, you might think that a larger amount would be even better. But that formula doesn’t always work when it comes to vitamins and minerals.
Researchers from the Iowa Women’s Health Study followed over 38,000 women, aged 55 and older, for a period of 20 years. According to results published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, they found that most vitamin and mineral supplements weren’t associated with a lower risk of dying during the study. Calcium supplements were associated with a slightly lower risk of death. But a number of other commonly used supplements, especially iron, were linked to a higher risk of death.
This research doesn’t mean that iron and other vitamins and minerals are bad for you. You need to have iron in your diet and body to be healthy. And for people with certain medical conditions, such as anemia, iron supplements are often vital. But this study does suggest that for healthy people, taking extra iron in supplement form may cause harm.