Dietary Supplements May Cause Serious Health Issues

Taking dietary supplements can cause potentially serious health problems, according to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Mineral intake may be too high for dietary supplements users.

"People need to choose supplements to help meet, but not exceed, the recommended daily intake levels," said Regan Bailey, a nutrition researcher at the National Institute of Health, who led the study.

Bailey and her colleagues used dietary surveys to examine mineral intake among 8,860 men and women who participated in a major government health survey between 2003 and 2006.

The study found men and women who reported using dietary supplements containing eight important minerals -- calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, copper, potassium and selenium -- were much less likely to be getting inadequate amounts of those minerals from the foods they ate than were people who did not take supplements.

The correlation was strongest for women, who are more likely than men to take supplements.

Furthermore, people who take dietary supplements are more likely to eat better and live healthier lifestyles in comparison to those who did not take supplements, Bailey noted.

Calcium intake often fell short of recommended levels, even among supplement users, the NIH researchers noted.

Approximately 25 percent of supplement users, and 71 percent of nonusers, did not receive the recommended daily amount of calcium -- 800 to 1,000 milligrams a day for men over age 51 and 1,000 to 1,200 mg per day for women of the same age. Older people were much more likely to fall below the daily calcium requirements, but also to exceed them, according to the study. This is due to the fact that people are more likely to use more supplements as they become older, which helps explain why close to16 percent of women between the ages of 51 and 70 reported daily calcium intakes that exceeded the recommended upper limit, the study found. "We always would hope that the people who are taking dietary supplements are the ones who need it the most, but it doesn't seem to be true," said Cheryl Rock, a nutrition researcher at the University of California, San Diego, Fox News reports. "We have been telling people clinically for years that the daily value cut point is not your minimum requirement. Having a dietary assessment is definitely a good idea."
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