New York: Women taking multivitamins don`t live longer than those who get their nutrients from food alone, a new U.S. study shows.In fact, they appear to have slightly higher death rates, researchers found."There is very little evidence showing that common dietary supplements would be beneficial in prevention of major chronic diseases," said Dr. Jaakko Mursu of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, who worked on the new study."Unless you are deficient, there is hardly any reason to take them," he told Reuters Health.About half of adult Americans take dietary supplements, and the industry now boasts of annual sales as high as $20 billion.Yet research suggests that some of the largely unregulated substances -- such as vitamins A and E -- could be harmful in high doses, according to an editorial published along with the new findings in the Archives of Internal Medicine."The belief that antioxidant supplements are beneficial seems likely to have resulted from a collective error," Dr. Goran Bjelakovic of the University of Nis in Serbia and Dr. Christian Gluud of Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen write. "Perhaps oxidative stress is one of the keys to extension of our life span."Mursu and his colleagues used data from nearly 39,000 older women who participated in the Iowa Women`s Health Study and filled out questionnaires starting in 1986.The survey asked about use of multivitamins, vitamins A, C, D and E as well as beta-carotene, B vitamins and minerals such as calcium, copper, magnesium, selenium and zinc.During the study, supplements became increasingly popular: Between 1986 and 2004, the proportion of women who said they took one or more jumped from 63 percent to 85 percent.Only calcium supplements were linked to a lower risk of death over 19 years of follow-up, with 37 percent of users dying compared to 43 percent of nonusers. That link held up even after considering that women taking supplements had a healthier lifestyle than the rest.
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