Health Bulletin Alternative Health Using Foods Instead of Drugs

Dietary Supplements and Mortality Rate in Older Women

read more articles on vitaminsDietary Supplements and Mortality Rate in Older Women

The Iowa Women's Health Study

Background: Although dietary supplements [Alternative Medicine] are commonly taken to prevent chronic disease, the long-term health consequences of many compounds are unknown.

Methods: We assessed the use of vitamin and mineral supplements in relation to total mortality in 38,772 older women in the Iowa Women's Health Study; mean age was 61.6 years at baseline in 1986. Supplement use was self-reported in 1986, 1997, and 2004. Through December 31, 2008, a total of 15,594 deaths (40.2%) were identified through the State Health Registry o Iowa...

Results: [The absolute risk increase for multi-vitamin use was 2.4%. For vitamin B6 it was 4.1%, for folic acid 5.9% and for iron 3.9%. For magnesium it was 3.6%, for zinc 3.0% and for copper 18%!]

"Use of calcium was inversely related [with an] absolute risk reduction of 3.8%. Findings for iron and calcium were replicated in separate, shorter-term analyses (20-year, 6-year, and 4-year follow-up)...

Conclusions: In older women, several commonly used dietary vitamin and mineral supplements may be associated with increased total mortality risk; this association is strongest with supplemental iron. In contrast to the findings of many studies, calcium is associated with decreased risk.


Editor's note: Several findings were surprising, but those regarding iron were not. It is easy to eliminate the added iron in Alternative Health usage, as many supplements are identified as being "Iron-free."  As for some vitamin Bs, realize that B vitamins are synergistic; taking one increases the risk in all. Thus the taking of single B vitamins should be discouraged.

In: Archives of Internal Medicine, Oct. 2011. By: Drs. Mursu, Robien, Jacobs et al., Inst. Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, U. of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland, School of Public Health, U. of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Dept. of Food and Nutrition, Yeungnam U., Rep. of Korea.

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