FSA issues strong warnings on vitamins

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food standards agency, Vitamin, Uk food standards agency

High dosages of vitamins and minerals taken over a long period of
time could cause permanent damage to your health and may lead to
cancer, warns the UK Food Standards Agency this week in a statement
set to provoke a vociferous reaction from the health food industry.

High dosages of vitamins and minerals taken over a long period of time could cause permanent damage to your health and may lead to cancer, warns the UK Food Standards Agency this week in a statement set to provoke a vociferous reaction from the health food industry.

The warning comes after the publication of a report from the Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals in which the independent advisory committee made recommendations on 31 vitamins and minerals.

The FSA​ is urging people to cut down on vitamin C, calcium and iron and has, for the first time, set safe daily limits for various supplements. It has also issued strong warnings on six and even demands the ban of one product - chromium picolinate, which could cause cancer.

High doses of beta-carotene, nicotinic acid, zinc, manganese and phosphorus could all have irreversible harmful effects if taken in high doses for long periods of time, the agency warns.

Other supplements may cause unpleasant effects, which could disappear once people stop taking them. Taking more than 1,000 mg a day of vitamin C could cause abdominal pain and diarrhoea. High intakes of calcium (more than 1,500 mg a day) and iron (more than 17 mg a day) may result in similar symptoms.

The Food Standards Agency is also reminding people that unless they are acting on their doctor's orders, they should not take more than 10 mg a day of vitamin B6. Taking more than this over a long period of time could result in a loss of feeling in the arms and legs. Although the symptoms are usually reversible, in some cases the effect has been permanent.

Advice is also being given on biotin, folic acid, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, boron, cobalt, copper, iodine, molybdenum, nickel, selenium, tin, magnesium, potassium, and silicon.

Sir John Krebs, Chair of the Food Standards Agency, said: "Taking some high dose supplements over a long period of time could be harmful. We are using an extremely thorough independent expert review of the scientific evidence on the safety of vitamins and minerals as the basis for new advice to help consumers make informed choices."

As a nod to the supplement industry, Krebs added : "In addition, the Board of the Food Standards Agency will be considering what further action we would wish the supplements industry to take."

Media reports across the UK were quick to pick up on the FSA warning. In an article in the Times​ on Thursday, Ralph Pike, of the National Association of Health Stores, which represents 12,500 health shops in the UK, quoted as being incensed by the 'meddling', demanded: "Where are the dead bodies? There has not been one death anywhere in the world from people taking a legitimate vitamin supplement. The authorities just don't like people taking control of their own health and they want everyone to abrogate responsibility for their lives to the nanny state."

Related topics: Science

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