April 19, 2019

Nutritious Foods, Not Dietary Supplements, Best for Living Longer

12 April 2019, 07:09 | Randall Craig

Spending Much On Dietary Supplements? They're Not The Secret To Living Longer, Says New Study

Calcium supplements linked to cancer in major study

However, studies are showing that our nutrients go a much longer way if consumed from a food source.

The scientists behind the work discovered that adequate intake of vitamin A, vitamin K, magnesium, zinc and copper were associated with a lower risk of premature death, but only when these nutrients came from food.

Experts suggest the findings add to growing evidence that supplements can not be used as "insurance", and that diet and lifestyle are key to health.

Researchers found that supplemental doses of calcium exceeding 1,000 mg per day are linked to an increased risk of cancer death.

In 2015, only 12.2 percent of Americans met the recommendations for eating fruit, and just 9.3 percent ate enough vegetables - even though eating enough fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet reduces the risk of many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and obesity.

One main takeaway from the study, Zhang says, is that if your diet is made up mostly of nutritious foods, supplements won't necessarily offer any additional benefits.

Calcium intake from supplement totals of at least 1,000 mg/day was associated with increased risk of death from cancer but there was no association for calcium intake from foods. About 945 cardiovascular deaths and 805 cancer deaths were included. Excess intake of calcium was associated with a higher risk of death from cancer.

Lead scientist Dr Fang Fang Zhang, said: 'It is important to understand the role that the nutrient and its source might play in health outcomes, particularly if the effect might not be beneficial.

The goal of this research, from Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in the USA state of MA, was to evaluate the link between use of dietary supplements, the level of nutrients obtained from food and supplements, and mortality in adults in the US.

Roughly 34 per cent of British people take health supplements daily, while the figure in the USA is closer to the 50 per cent mark. Association between dietary supplement use, nutrient intake, and mortality among U.S. adults: a cohort study. There was no association between dietary supplement use and a lower risk of death. Instead, researchers recommend getting nutrients from food. In addition, the study found that taking dietary supplements didn't lower the risk of death in participants, which included U.S. adults ages 20 and older. In addition, prevalence and dosage of dietary supplement use was self-reported and so is subject to recall bias.

Professor Tom Sanders, of King's College London, said: 'People who self-medicate with supplements are often the "worried well" or those who have health problems. A lifetime of a poor diet and lack of physical exercise can not be made up with supplements and vitamins.

'You can't turn a bad diet into a good diet with handful of pills'.

'Meanwhile, it is clear diets high in these components are healthy. In fact, they didn't need supplements at all to meet their daily requirements for vitamins and minerals. But with an abundance of uncertainty and a lack of evidence for supplements, Zhang says the average person should just eat a balanced diet that contains plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, rather than turning to over-the-counter solutions.

'The latter are not generally an effective substitute for, or supplement to, the former'.

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