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Too much dietary supplements harmful

People who take dietary supplements to boost their intake of minerals may actually be getting too much of a good thing — and even risk serious problems.

health and fitness Updated: Oct 11, 2011 16:09 IST

People who take dietary supplements to boost their intake of minerals may actually be getting too much of a good thing — and even risk serious problems.

According to a US study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who take dietary supplements also tend to get more nutrients from their food than those who don’t take supplements — suggesting that vitamins may be taken by the people who need them least.

In some cases, supplement users may actually be overloading on minerals, such as iron, that can cause potentially serious health problems, said researchers. “People need to choose supplements to help meet, but not exceed, the recommended daily intake levels,” said Regan Bailey, a nutrition research at the National Institutes of Health, who led the study.

Bailey and her colleagues used dietary surveys to assess mineral intake among 8,860 men and women who participated in a major government health survey. Men and women who reported using dietary supplements containing eight important minerals — calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, copper, potassium and selenium — were much less likely to be getting inadequate amounts of those minerals from the foods they ate than were people who said they didn’t take supplements, the study found.