Don’t Take Your Vitamins?


Taking extra doses of vitamins may actually not be to your benefit and may even be harmful. A study of 35,000 men conducted over 7 years published on Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has found that taking extra vitamin E may raise a man’s risk of prostate cancer. Another new study of 38,000 women in  The Archives of Internal Medicine has found that older women who used vitamins and supplements had a higher risk of dying during a 19-year-period than women who did not.

Said Dr. Eric Klein, a Cleveland Clinic physician and national study coordinator for the prostate cancer and vitamin E study:

“You go back 15 or 20 years, and there were thoughts that antioxidants of all sorts might be useful. There really is not any compelling evidence that taking these dietary supplements above and beyond a normal dietary intake is helpful in any way, and this is evidence that it could be harmful.”

Study author Dr. Ian Thompson went so far as to say that “a man should go to his medicine cabinet and look to see if he’s taking a vitamin E supplement and very seriously consider whether he should continue taking it.”

He might also want to check the contents of any multivitamins he’s taking, as many of these contain far more than the recommended daily allowance  for vitamin E of 22.4 International Units.  Participants in the JAMA study were randomly assigned to take 400 IUs a day of vitamin E — a typical dose in vitamin E supplements — or a placebo. Those taking vitamin E were found to have a 17 percent higher risk of prostate cancer compared with men who didn’t take the vitamin; the study also tested the effect of selenium on the risk of prostate cancer and found none. In 2008, the study ended after a review of data showed no benefit.

63 percent of the women in The Archives of Internal Medicine study used supplements at the beginning and 85 percent by 2004. Here’s what researchers found:

Use of multivitamins, vitamin B6, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc and copper were all associated with increased risk of death. The findings translate to a 2.4 percent increase in absolute risk for multivitamin users, a 4 percent increase associated with vitamin B6, a 5.9 percent increase for folic acid, and increases of 3 to 4 percent in risk for those taking supplements of iron, folic acid, magnesium and zinc.

Certainly we all need vitamins but, as these two studies and others suggest, the best way to get those nutrients really is from vegetables and fruits in the produce section, rather than from supplements in the aisles of your local pharmacy or health food store.


Related Care2 Coverage

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Photo by aSIMULAtor


LMj Sunshine


LMj Sunshine


Cheri L.
Cheri L.4 years ago

This is not a good study because many people who are taking supplements do so because they are not healthy to begin with. I will die sooner due to asthmatic problems but in the mean time I have better quality of life by taking 500 gm of C and 500 mg of B-5 four tmes a day. Some fool will no doubt say that my sister who has no health issues, takes no vitamins and will most likely live longer than me did so because she took no vitamns. What a load of house manure!

Paul Calnan
Paul Calnan Sr4 years ago

Cooking food destroys most of the nutritional value of food, especially in microwave ovens when the food is irradiated. Eating a raw organic vegetarian diet is the best way to obtain the most nutritional value from food.

Dawn Marie
Dawn Marie4 years ago

Another petition link from the Alliance for Natural Health:

Patricia C.
Patricia Cohen5 years ago

Note first that "HIGH doses" and "EXTRA doses" are used as modifiers, not saying for example one minimum daily requirements" vitamin. Also, in paragraph 4, "dietary supplements ABOVE AND BEYOND a normal dietary intake" is stated as the guideline to taking vitamins. I've never advotated vitamin E of Silenium, as mentioned in paragraph 6, and you rarely need those extras except as a doctor would prescribe for a specific ailment. When you are thinking about your "regular dietary sources" of food, think carefully when deciding if you eat enough blackberries, mangos, sweet potatoes, spinach, brussels sprouts, salmon, nuts, whole grains, chicken livers, fish, cheese, eggs and milk to not need any supplements at all. None of us do, believe me, especially as we grow older and eat less.

Doyle O.
Doyle Osburn5 years ago

hmmmmmm odd

Ruth R.
Ruth R.5 years ago

This is only one study.

Lilithe Magdalene

This seems so bass ackwards! I think taking vitamins increases detoxing, and if you are putting in more toxins and thinking taking a handful of vitamins will compensate, then I think you are fooling yourself. If this study is true than I would look at the men who take the vitamins, and what their other habits are, body products they use, food they eat, toxins they may be exposed to and get a fuller picture of what is happening. Cancer is just the body's way of saying "I can't eliminate the toxins as fast as you are putting them in me!"

Ruth R.
Ruth R.5 years ago