Vitamins taken by around a third of the population do not extend life and may even cause premature death, according to a respected group of international scientists.
After reviewing 67 studies involving more than 230,000 men and women, the experts say there is no convincing evidence that taking supplements of the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E can make you healthier.
Forty per cent of women and 30 per cent of men take a vitamin pill each day.
The review involved trials on beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium. It says in-depth analysis of the different trials does not support the idea that vitamins extend lifespan.
'Even more, beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E seem to increase mortality,' says the review.
Vitamin A was linked to a 16 per cent increase in mortality, beta-carotene - the pigment found in carrots, tomatoes and broccoli which the body converts into vitamin A - to a 7 per cent increase and vitamin E to a 4 per cent increase. However, there was no significant detrimental effect caused by vitamin C.
'There was no evidence to support either healthy people using antioxidants to prevent disease or for sick people to take them to get better,' said the review.
It said more research was needed on vitamin C and selenium.
Antioxidants are used by the body as protection against free radicals, which are molecules produced during normal metabolism.
These can damage the body if they flourish in an uncontrolled way as a result of illness, overexposure to toxins or ageing.
It is thought antioxidants such as vitamin C confer health benefits by 'grabbing' or neutralising free radicals, and many people take them as health 'insurance'.
The theory behind using antioxidants is to combat oxidation - the chemical reaction that causes metals to rust - which in cells can damage DNA, thus raising the risk of cancer, other diseases and the changes associated with ageing.
Previous human and animal laboratory research suggested that boosting antioxidant levels in the body might extend life, but other studies produced neutral or even harmful results. More here...
It's true that synthetic man-made chemcials have been proven to cause harm. Just makes sense, put chemicals in a human body and it will cause harm. Look at the deaths everyday from approved drugs. These drugs are all man-made chemicals, in a lab.