New study: nutrients from natural sources better than from food supplements

New study: nutrients from natural sources better than from food supplements

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Vitamins and minerals better from food than from pills and powders

A new study has shown that an adequate intake of certain nutrients is associated with a reduction in overall mortality - but only if these substances come from food. If they are taken via dietary supplements, the positive effect is missing.

Superfluous preparations

Millions of people regularly take dietary supplements to get important vitamins and minerals. However, experts repeatedly point out that such preparations are superfluous for healthy people and have no health benefits. A new study from the USA has now shown this. The scientists found that the absorption of nutrients from natural sources is associated with a lower risk of death or cancer - but if they come from dietary supplements, this effect does not occur.

Large study on eating habits and supplements

Researchers from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts evaluated data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) research program from 1999 to 2010 for their study.

As explained by the Federal Institute for Nutrition (BZfE), a total of 27,000 adults from the age of 20 provided information on their eating habits in 24-hour protocols.

They also provided information on whether and in what amounts they had taken food supplements in the past 30 days.

The daily dose of vitamins and minerals supplied via food and supplements was calculated separately.

Lower overall risk of death

According to the scientists, 3,613 people had died after an average observation period of six years, 945 from cardiovascular diseases and 805 from cancer.

The researchers also found that adequate intake of vitamin K and magnesium from food, not nutritional supplements, was associated with a lower overall risk of death.

Those who ingested enough vitamin A, vitamin K and zinc through food were less likely to die from cardiovascular diseases. However, this relationship could not be established with dietary supplements.

The researchers at Tufts University included possible influencing factors such as smoking, physical activity and alcohol consumption in their evaluation.

Calcium supplements can be dangerous

The excessive intake of calcium supplements (at least 1,000 mg daily) statistically increased the likelihood of developing a tumor. The reasons for this have not been finally clarified.

This risk did not exist for calcium from food.

Previous studies have also shown how dangerous calcium supplements can be. For example, researchers reported that such agents can increase the risk of colon cancer.

They also endanger our hearts.

A balanced and varied diet is enough

"Our results support the opinion that the use of dietary supplements contributes to an increased total intake of nutrients, but there are beneficial connections to nutrients from foods that are not seen in dietary supplements," said study author Dr. Fang Fang Zhang in a message.

And: "It is important to understand what role the nutrient and its source can play in health outcomes, especially if the effect is not beneficial."

However, the results should be interpreted with caution, because pure observational studies cannot prove causal relationships.

In addition, according to the scientists, it is difficult to link individual vitamins or minerals with a risk of death.

As the authors of the "Annals of Internal Medicine" magazine point out, the complex interactions between the nutrients must not be neglected.

Potential benefits and disadvantages of taking health supplements need to be further explored.

Most nutritionists believe that a balanced and varied diet is usually enough to meet the need for micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals.

However, this does not apply to the elderly, pregnant women, nursing mothers and infants. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Which Supplements Should I Take? What Actually Helps? (August 2022).