Multivitamins do not prevent heart disease, study finds

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Scientists from the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that taking multivitamin and mineral supplements does not prevent heart attacks, strokes, or heart death.

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, unlike drugs, there are no provisions in the law for the agency to “approve” dietary supplements for safety or effectiveness before they reach the consumer, nor can the product’s label make health claims to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat or prevent disease.

As many as 30 percent of Americans use multivitamin and mineral supplements, with the global nutritional supplement industry expected to reach $278 billion by 2024.

Controversy about the effectiveness of multivitamin and mineral supplements to prevent heart diseases has been going on for years.

In the study, the team performed a “meta-analysis,” putting together the results from 18 individual published studies, totaling more than 2 million participants and having an average of 12 years of follow-up.

They found no association between taking multivitamin and mineral supplements and a lower risk of death from heart diseases.

The team found although multivitamin and mineral supplements taken in moderation rarely cause direct harm, they urge people to protect their heart health by understanding their individual risk for heart disease and stroke and working with a healthcare provider to create a plan that uses proven measures to reduce risk.

These include a heart-healthy diet, exercise, tobacco cessation, controlling blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels, and when needed, medical treatment.

The American Heart Association does not recommend using multivitamins or mineral supplements to prevent cardiovascular diseases.

The team says it has been exceptionally difficult to convince people, including nutritional researchers, to acknowledge that multivitamin and mineral supplements don’t prevent heart diseases.

The researchers hope our study findings help decrease the hype around multivitamin and mineral supplements and encourage people to use proven methods to reduce their risk of cardiovascular diseases—such as eating more fruits and vegetables, exercising, and avoiding tobacco.

If you care about supplements, please read studies about how much vitamin C you need for better immune health, and more vitamin D could boost your memory but may make you slow.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about the features of a ‘longevity diet’, and results showing Mediterranean diet could lower high blood pressure in older people.

The research was published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes and conducted by Joonseok Kim et al.

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