Older people in Germany take too many dietary supplements
Older people in Germany are increasingly trusting the supposedly health-promoting effects of dietary supplements and therefore ingesting excessively high concentrations of minerals and vitamins. Scientists at the Institute for Epidemiology II at the Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU) have stated, "How often older people take supplementary nutrients, so-called supplements, and which ingredients are added in which doses." The results of the research team led by Sigrid Schwab, Dr. Barbara Thorand and Professor Dr. Annette Peters was published in the journal "The Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging".
The scientists used the data from the so-called KORA-Age study as the basis for their study, which “examines the relationship between lifestyle factors and the state of health of people aged 65 and older in the Augsburg area,” reports the Helmholtz Zentrum München. The analyzes showed that around 54 percent of women and 34 percent of men over the age of 64 “supplementary nutrients such as vitamins, minerals or other substances (for example omega-3 fatty acids or coenzyme Q10) in the form of supplements (dietary supplements or Medicines) ”, according to the HMGU. According to the researchers, it is not uncommon for the tolerable daily maximum levels specified by the European Food Safety Authority to be exceeded. In particular, the intake of magnesium and vitamin E is often significantly too high.
Excessive concentration of vitamin E and magnesium The analysis of the data showed that the most frequently supplemented ingredients in women were magnesium and vitamin D, while men preferred to take magnesium and vitamin E. "It was observed for both sexes that the doses of magnesium and vitamin E often exceeded the tolerable daily maximums," reports the HMGU. For example, 20 percent of women who regularly took magnesium caused their bodies to have concentrations that were significantly too high. This was true for men for 33 percent of the participants. Excessive amounts of vitamin E were ingested by eight percent of women and 14 percent of men who swallowed the corresponding preparations. The frequency of use was also related to "education, physical activity, smoking behavior and the presence of a neurological disorder," reports the HMGU.
Lack of scientific basis for taking nutritional supplements The director of the Institute for Epidemiology II at HMGU, Professor Dr. Annette Peters explained that so far “current and population-based data on taking supplements in older people” are largely missing for Europe, but this population group is of particular interest with regard to nutritional supplements due to age-related nutrient deficits. So far, it has often been taken without a sound scientific basis. "Industry and advertising seem to have a major influence on the choice of preparations," stressed Peters. The results of the current investigation and further research are important here in order to be able to make meaningful recommendations for nutritional supplements in old age.
Improved information on nutritional supplements needed The researchers found not only that many older people ingest too much magnesium and vitamin E, but also that “vitamin D, the supplementation of which is often medically recommended in this age group, as it has a positive effect on bone metabolism, among other things , overall taken up by relatively few old people ”. It therefore seems all the more important to provide a clear scientific basis for taking the dietary supplements. Especially since the range of dietary supplements with a supposedly promising effect has increased significantly in recent years, as more and more manufacturers have discovered this lucrative field of business for themselves. Improved support for consumers and patients in the form of reliable information and advice from doctors seem to be urgently needed here. (fp)