Scientists at Copenhagen University said that healthy people, who take vitamins known as antioxidants to lower their chances of developing cancer, may do more harm than bad. It was found that these vitamins may interfere with natural body defence system and this can increase the risk of dying prematurely by 16 percent.
A review of 67 studies on 230,000 healthy people showed that there is no evidence that antioxidants helped to prolong life, but there were cases when they actually shortened it.
Antioxidants, including vitamins A,E and C are known to fight with free radicals and prevent various diseases. But the increased intake of synthetic supplements, including vitamins and minerals may hold a risk for health, undermining the defence system.
Scientists say that people who are concerned about their diet should keep to a balanced diet to get the necessary vitamins.
The findings of the study showed that supplements of vitamin A increased the risks of premature death by 16 percent, beta-carotene intake lead to 7 percent risk of dying prematurely and vitamin E increased the risk of early death by 4 percent. Though there was no evidence that vitamin C had a negative effect on health, there were also no significant benefits found.
Experts say that people should try to get the necessary vitamins from their diet, by eating fruits and vegetables, exercising and quitting bad habits like smoking and drinking alcohol. Antioxidants may help to maintain health, but should be taken with caution.
Catherine Collins, of the British Dietetic Association, said that the results of the study imply that more regulations for vitamins and minerals should be introduced to control their dosage.