Jama Logo When it comes to dietary supplements, professionals always include a word of caution. In this view, a study conducted by experts from the University of Eastern Finland has disclosed that consumption of dietary supplements such as multivitamins, folic acid, iron, copper and others could lead to early mortality of senior women.

The accessibility and usage of dietary supplements is showing a growing trend in the U.S, and they also significantly contribute to the overall nutrient intake among older women. The investigators examined information gathered from the Iowa Women’s Health Study, to analyze the link between vitamin or mineral supplements and death rate. Around 38,772 elderly women were examined in the process and use of supplements was reported in 1986, 1997 and 2004 through surveys.

“At the population level, dietary supplements contributed substantially to the total intake of several nutrients, particularly in elderly individuals,” commented Jaakko Mursu from the University of Eastern Finland and his team.

Among those who started follow-up with the first analysis in 1986, there were reportedly 15,594 deaths over 19 years on an average. Self-reported supplement use seemingly elevated prominently between 1986 and 2004, with nearly 62.7% women reporting the use of a minimum of 1 supplement everyday in 1986, 75.1% in 1997 and 85.1% in 2004.

The scientists found that many supplements were apparently not related to low mortality in older women and many of them seemed to show an increased risk of death. After controlling for various factors, use of supplements such as multivitamins, folic acid, iron, magnesium, and zinc were all supposedly linked to a growing risk of death in the subjects.

On the other hand, calcium seemed to cut down the death risk while the correlation between supplement intake and chances of death were highest in iron. Also, a dose-response relationship was seen as a heightened risk factor for low doses as women grew older in the analysis.

The findings for calcium and iron supplements were repeated in individual assessments later. The authors conclude that there is less justification for the large scale use of dietary supplements.

The study is published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals