"If you realize you have a deficit, then supplement, but not more than the recommended daily allowance", she said.Most people who take supplements probably aren't expecting to live longer, but hoping for more immediate results, Kumar suggested.
Similarly, calcium intake from supplements indicated an increased risk of death but when taken from food, there was no association with death.
They showed that adequate consumption of vitamins A and K, as well as magnesium and zinc, reduced the risk of death. Though some nutrients have been linked to lower mortality risk in general, you'll need to get those nutrients from actual food, not pills and powders, to reap the benefits.
Scientists writing in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine said cancer patients could be putting themselves in greater danger by taking calcium supplement doses higher than 1,000 milligrams per day. However, excess calcium was linked to an increase risk of cancer mortality.
With more than half of US adults using dietary supplements, Zhang and her colleagues explored their effects, as well as the impact of nutrients found in foods, with data from 27,725 adults participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
"Our results support the idea that, while supplement use contributes to an increased level of total nutrient intake, there are beneficial associations with nutrients from foods that aren't seen with supplements", said Zhang.
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Measurements for the study included data on participants' use of dietary supplements in the previous 30 days, along with their nutrient intake from food and supplements.
First of all, the participants were asked to fill a 24-hour food questionnaire twice.
Researchers also found that taking dietary supplements did not affect the risk of death of individuals with low nutrient intake. People with no vitamin D deficiency also faced an increased death risk when they consumed the nutrient in a supplement.
Professor Tom Sanders, of King's College London, said: 'People who self-medicate with supplements are often the "worried well" or those who have health problems.
Somewhere there seems to be a disconnect, because study after study keeps showing that supplements do not make a difference, at best, and at worst, that they can do harm.
'Supplementing some vitamins and/or minerals can benefit those at risk (e.g. folic acid in pregnancy) or who may benefit for specific medical reasons (such as osteoporosis).