- A study found that people with higher levels of vitamin B12 in their blood plasma had a death rate about twice as high as those with lower B12 levels.
- The study looked at 5,571 men and women from the Netherlands over eight years.
- This adds to the growing body of research warning people that vitamin supplements may not have as many benefits as they claim.
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High levels of vitamin B12 in a person’s blood are associated with an increased risk of early death, according to research published last month in the journal JAMA Network Open.
However, researchers at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands analysed 5,571 Dutch men and women with an average age of about 54 over about eight years and found that the people with the highest levels of B12 in their blood plasma were more likely to die earlier than those with the lowest levels – their death rate was about twice as high.
The team was surprised to find the B12 connection held true even after controlling for other factors like age and history of cancer and heart disease.
The researchers said they weren’t sure why, and while it may have something to do with the way B12 affects gut bacteria, they said that’s just a guess.
A lot of research has found that these vitamin supplements are a waste of money
People whose bodies cannot absorb vitamins like B12 through food can use supplements, and in recent years the market for vitamin and dietary supplements has boomed.
A 2013 article from the think tank McKinsey said it was partly because of an ageing population and an increased consumer awareness of preventative healthcare. But not all preventative healthcare is good, and there is a growing body of scientific research exploring the detriments of vitamin supplements.
There isn’t much scientific research backing up the hair-and-skin-strengthening benefits touted by many vitamin supplements. In fact, taking too many supplements can have adverse effects, and a 2015 study estimated that each year 23,000 people in the US visit the emergency room because of supplement-related issues.
A 2019 study found that for already healthy people, taking vitamin supplements isn’t likely to do much. Another 2019 study found that taking too much vitamin D was associated with a higher risk of early death.
Many vitamin supplements aren’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration. And for the ones that are, the FDA warns that their benefits are limited. The agency said in its latest B12 guidelines that “the body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12 from dietary supplements is largely limited” and that “only about 10 mcg of a 500 mcg oral supplement is actually absorbed in healthy people.”
Be leery of supplements, S. Bryn Austin, a professor of behavioural sciences at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, previously told Business Insider.
“We don’t have any clear evidence that they’re beneficial,” she said. “Whether it’s on the bottle or not, there can be ingredients in there that can do harm.”
- Read more:
- The explosive YouTube war between James Charles and Tati Westbrook is all because of vitamin supplements. Health experts say they can be a scam.
- There’s even more evidence to suggest most popular vitamin supplements are essentially useless
- 9 things you should know before taking supplements
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