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Women: Will Your Vitamin Kill You?

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Vitamins (credit: CBS)

Vitamins (credit: CBS)

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Written by Dr. Dave Hnida CBS4 Medical EditorAnother week. Another study. Another batch of questions about what that study really means to you.

This week’s confusion comes courtesy of the Archive of Internal Medicine which finds women who take vitamins, even multi-vitamins, may have a higher risk of death compared to women who don’t take supplements.

Now before you run screaming to your medicine cabinet to flush your vitamins down the toilet, let’s take a closer look at what’s behind the headline.

The study followed more than 38,000 women over an 18 year period and finds those who took some form of supplement had an 2.4% increased risk of death during those 18 years. Folks, 2.4% isn’t gigantic (except if you’re in that 2.4%, but that could apply to an even smaller figure.)

Plus, this was a survey study, i.e. it simply asked : do you take a vitamin each day? — meaning there was no direct link or reason between a vitamin and death. It did not take into account lifestyle or several other obvious important factors.

The average age of women at the start of the study — 61.6 years. What about younger women? Do they die sooner if they take vitamins?

Finally, it did not look at how long the women used vitamins, or for that matter the amount or dosage of vitamins.

So, maybe the study has a few holes, and you shouldn’t jump to conclusions.

That said, there is one major takeaway — you should know by now you’re not going to find health in a pill.

Healthy foods are the best way to get nutrients, since those nutrients are in proper proportions and interact with each other naturally to promote health. A pill cannot do that.

Sure, it’s too early to say throw away your supplements, but perhaps your money would be better spent on some fruit and veggies than a handful of pills.

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