Higher Death Risk with Dietary Supplements

The vitamin, mineral and herbal supplement industry in the United States has been so effective in marketing that currently 50% of adults regularly consume their products.  Traditional health care advocates have believed that a well balanced varied diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, appropriately prepared, will provide all the nutrients, Co-enzymes and anti-oxidants that you need.

A recent article in Medpage Today cited the long-term study of Jaakko Mursu, PhD, of the University of Eastern Finland which states that dietary supplements are linked to a higher death risk. The use of multivitamins and vitamin B6, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc and copper supplements was associated with a greater “all cause mortality” during the 19 years the study was in progress.

Mursu evaluated the use of vitamin and mineral supplements among 38,772 post-menopausal women participating in the Iowa Women’s Health Study. Initiated in 1986, the average age of the participants in the study was 61.6 years.

“Based on existing evidence, we see little justification for the general and widespread use of dietary supplements.” stated Mursu.  “Calcium supplementation, on the other hand, was associated with a lower risk of death.”

The Food and Drug Administration does not require manufacturers of these products to reveal their efficacy or safety.  At this point I will continue to recommend a balanced, healthy and well prepared diet to my patients with avoidance of supplements unless we can demonstrate safety and efficacy.

Moderate Drinking Can Reduce Dementia, Alzheimer’s Risk

In an article in the International Business Times 08/19/2011 edition, Loyala University Medical Center researchers admit that moderate consumption of alcohol reduces the risk of developing cognitive dysfunction and Alzheimer’s type dementia.

They reviewed 143 studies, which included about 365,000 members from 19 different countries. The health benefits were seen in 14 of the 19 countries including the USA.  Moderate drinking was defined as one drink daily for women and two for men. Further clarification defines moderate intake as 1.5 ounces of spirits, 5 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer.

It was not clear why moderate alcohol intake reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s disease but it is believed to be due to its anti-inflammatory effects.  Neuroinflammation which occurs in both Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias can be altered by moderate alcohol consumption. They did caution however, that heavy drinking defined as 3-5 drinks per day actually causes neuroinflammation and memory problems.  The study, published in the Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment Journal, showed that wine consumption was a better choice to reduce the risk of dementia.

The study review showed that moderate drinking didn’t impair the cognitive functions in younger subjects aged 18 -50 and actually reduced the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s in participants over the age of 50.