Study has concerns about dietary supplements

By: Sandra Hughes, CBS News Email
By: Sandra Hughes, CBS News Email

Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011

LOS ANGELES -- If your medicine cabinet is filling up with dietary supplements, you'll want to hear the findings of a new study that may change your mind about taking all those pills.

Like millions of americans, Hilda Chorbajian takes supplements.

"I take fish oil, vitamin c," she said.

New research suggests taking dietary supplements like multi-vitamins may not make you live longer. In fact, they could shorten your life. International doctors looked at nearly 40 thousand women around the age of 61 who took supplements. They say taking multivitamins, vitamin b6, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc and copper appears to be associated with increased risk of death.

"They are able to tell us use with multivitamins increased the relative risk by 2.4 percent," said Dr. Lisa Ganjhu, who works at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital.

The association was strongest when it came to taking iron. Researchers also found taking calcium supplements appears to reduce risk of death.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of us adults take at least one supplement daily and those numbers are increasing as we look for ways to stay healthy.

Experts stress this is just one study and that similar research has not shown the same results. But it's always good to let your doctor know what you're taking.

"A lot of times they are taking combination supplements so they are taking a lot of one element and it's unbalanced," said Dr. Ganjhu.

Doctors say eating right is still the best way for your body to absorb the vitamins and minerals you need.

Doctors also say it's important to tell your physician about all the supplements you are taking because they can interact with some medications.

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