In a recent study from West Virginia University, scientists found that some common dietary supplements may help protect people from heart disease and stroke.
They found taking folic acid may protect against stroke, and taking omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of heart attack and coronary heart disease.
But other supplements, such as calcium and vitamin D, don’t have these health benefits.
In fact, if people take the two supplements together, they may have a higher risk of stroke.
The findings are published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The lead author is Safi Khan, an assistant professor in the West Virginia University.
In this study, the researchers analyzed 277 published studies, in which nearly 1 million adults participated.
They examined 16 nutritional supplements and wanted to find out how nutritional supplements and diets influenced mortality rates and heart disease risk.
The analyses focused on whether supplements changed the rates of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, heart attack, stroke, and coronary heart disease.
The results showed that most nutritional supplements people take or the diets they eat do not actually protect them against heart problems and death.
Only two seemed beneficial: folic acid and omega-3 fatty acids.
Folic acid may help protect against stroke, and omega-3 fatty acids may help cut the risk of heart attack and coronary heart disease.
The team also found that taking both calcium and vitamin may actually be harmful. Taking a combination of the two supplements may increase the risk of stroke.
But taking calcium or vitamin D alone seemed to have no effect on mortality or heart disease whatsoever.
The team also found other supplements, such as multivitamins, iron, folic acid, beta-carotene, and antioxidants, have influences on health.
The researchers also examined the health benefits of popular diets.
They found that eating less salt improved all-cause mortality rates in people with normal blood pressure and heart disease risk in people with high blood pressure.
The other seven—which included eating less or different types of fat, adopting a Mediterranean diet and increasing fish-oil intake—had no effect.
The team says future work needs to confirm the health benefits and harms of the supplements found in this study.
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