Are vitamin pills doing you more harm than good?

Vitamin pills and health supplements are big business these days with almost one third of British adults taking some form of supplement.

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But a new study has found that, far from boosting your good health and vigour, some could actually do more harm than good.

Researchers from Finland, Norway, South Korea and the US looked at the long-term effects of various popular supplements on nearly 39,000 women, aged between 55 and 69.

Each participant recorded the supplements they took on a regular basis over the course of 18 years. The results suggest that not only are we wasting our money on this £657 million industry, we may actually be increasing our risk of dying prematurely.

Among those that were potentially harmful were folic acid, often taken by pregnant women to prevent neural tube defects in their unborn child, which increased the risk of an early death by almost six per cent, iron, which raised the risk by almost four per cent, and copper which could increase your chances of dying prematurely by 18 per cent.

Those taking vitamin B6 on a regular basis increased their risk by four per cent, magnesium advocates by 3.6 per cent and the ever-popular multivitamin bumped up the risk by 2.4 per cent.

Though scientists are currently unable to explain exactly how some supplements could trigger an early demise, they suggested that vitamin and mineral pills may interfere with the body's own natural defences.

The researchers questioned the use of supplements among healthy individuals who should be getting all the nutrition they need from a balanced diet.

Researcher Jaakko Mursu, from the University of Eastern Finland, said: "Based on existing evidence, we see little justification for the general and widespread use of dietary supplements.

"We recommend that they be used with strong medically-based cause, such as symptomatic nutrient deficiency disease."

Do you take vitamin pills or supplements and will this research make you think again? Leave your comments below...