Every morning when you pop that big pill do you proudly think about how healthy you are? You might want to think again. It appears that not only do your vitamins not protect you from disease, but they may be shortening your life in and of themselves.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota analyzed data from the Iowa Women's Health Study of 38,000 women during the past 30 years and discovered that "women who took supplements had, on average, a 2.4 percent increased risk of dying over the course of the 19-year study, compared with women who didn't take supplements," even after adjusting for factors like age and calorie intake.
Scientists think the problem lies particularly in ingesting too much iron, vitamin A, and folic acid, adding, "Most supplements contain higher amounts of nutrients than would be derived from food, and it is known that several compounds can be toxic in higher amounts, especially when consumed for a long time, as some of these accumulate to body."
Nobody wants to die younger, but it seems like an especially low blow when the thing that may be shortening your life is the vitamins you're taking to help you meet your great-grand-kids. Fortunately there are still some proven ways to increase your longevity, no funny-smelling, neon-urine-making, horse pills required.
1. Eat whole foods. It's common sense but it can't be said enough. Mother Nature knew what she was doing when she packaged certain nutrients, vitamins, fiber, and other goodies together in fruits, vegetables, and grains.
2. Get enough (but not too much) exercise. Life-long moderate exercise has been shown to increase lifespan in every group. Plus, it ameliorates depression and anxiety so it's good for your mind too.
3. Make connections with other people. People with strong social groups - and they need to be in real life, not just on Facebook - live longer (and happier!) lives.