Supplements not always health-friendly

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London, Jan 21 (UNI) The next time you pop in a vitamin pill, remember that it might be doing you more harm than good.

Researchers are beginning to challenge the view that vitamin supplements ensure the nutrient requirements of our body. Recent research suggested that men taking multivitamins have a higher risk of advanced prostate cancer, while beta-carotene supplements, a form of vitamin A, were linked to increase in the ominously non-specific 'overall risk of dying'.

It was also found that women taking calcium supplements to combat osteoporosis were 50 per cent more likely to have a heart attack than those on placebos.

However, to avail the beneficial impact, patients prescribed supplements on medical grounds must balance their risks with their advantages, Catherine Collins, spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association told UK's Daily Telegraph.

Vitamin A, which helps maintain a healthy skin and mucus linings, strengthens immunity and prevents night blindness, is associated with an increased risk of fracture in elderly women. Too much vitamin A in early pregnancy can damage the foetus.

Consumption of vitamin D, which is on the rise among Britain's ethnic minorities, causes rickets, the report said.

Too much use of Manganese, a trace element prescribed for diabetes, epilepsy, high cholesterol, Parkinson's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and schizophrenia, may run the risk of heavy metal poisoning.

Anyone taking a combination of supplements should be wary of inadvertently exceeding the safe dose, Ms Collins said.

Antioxidant vitamin C has low toxicity, so it's not as dangerous in high doses as many other supplements, but it can cause diarrhoea, the report added.

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