Statistics show over two in three U.S. adults take at least one dietary supplement per day. Whether it’s fish oil, turmeric powder, iron or a multivitamin, though, you should think twice before including a dietary supplement in your daily regimen. According to a study cited by WebMD, dietary supplements don’t offer any health benefits. In fact, researchers found certain types of dietary supplements increase the risk of death.
For the study, which has since been published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers at Tufts University analyzed the supplement usage, diets and health markers of over 30,000 U.S. men and women. The study revealed that men and women who consumed a sufficient amount of vitamin K and magnesium were less likely to die from heart disease than their counterparts who consumed an insufficient amount of these two essential nutrients.
However, only participants who consumed a sufficient amount of vitamin K and magnesium from food sources experienced a lower risk of death from heart disease. When consumed in supplement form, these two nutrients did not affect the risk of death from heart disease.
Researchers also found a link between calcium supplements and cancer. After analyzing the data, they discovered that participants who took a calcium supplement were more likely to develop cancer than participants who didn’t take a calcium supplement. Calcium intake from milk, cheese, broccoli and other food sources did not increase the risk of cancer in participants.
It’s unclear why supplements fail to offer the same health benefits as food sources of the same nutrients. One possible reason is that dietary supplements don’t always contain the nutrients touted on their label. Unlike drugs, dietary supplements sold in the United States don’t require approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so some nefarious manufacturers intentionally mislabel their products to make a quick buck.
Even if a dietary supplement is properly labeled and contains its listed ingredients, it may still fail to offer any health benefits. The nutrients in dietary supplements aren’t absorbed as efficiently as nutrients in food. If you’re looking to better your health, focus on acquiring nutrients from food sources rather than supplements.