The Grapevine

Multivitamins Do Nothing For Heart Health, Study Finds

People who take multivitamin and mineral supplements to improve their heart health may be wasting their money. According to a new report, these supplements provide no clinical benefits that prevent heart disease or cardiovascular death

The study titled "Multivitamins Do Not Reduce Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality and Should Not Be Taken for This Purpose" was published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes on July 10.

"It has been exceptionally difficult to convince people, including nutritional researchers, to acknowledge that multivitamin and mineral supplements don't prevent cardiovascular diseases," said lead author Dr. Joonseok Kim, an assistant professor of cardiology in the Department of Medicine at the University of Alabama.

The research team closely analyzed data from 18 individual published studies with the total number of participants exceeding 2 million. On average, the studies followed participants for around 12 years. Multivitamin and mineral use were found to have no effect in reducing the risk of heart attacks, strokes or cardiovascular death.

"I 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," Kim added.

According to estimations, around half the population in the United States takes at least one vitamin while 30 percent take a multivitamin. Even so, the findings do not come as a surprise to many but merely add to the growing body of research with similar conclusions.

One recent study from Canada found that, with the exception of folate, most vitamin and mineral supplements offered no benefit. Some studies even suggested there could be an increased risk of certain diseases and other side effects.

"People shouldn't be under the misconception that just because you can get these over the counter that they're safe," cautioned Dr. Erin Michos, a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. "Each year, an estimated 23,000 individuals are seen in emergency departments across the country due to adverse effects from different supplements."

One of the main problems with supplements is that they do not have to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before being marketed and sold to consumers. In their screening process, the FDA will test an item for safety as well as efficacy.

Opting for a healthy diet is still the best way to obtain nutrients, doctors say — which means more of fruits and vegetables, and less of processed foods that contain excessive calories, added sugars, trans fats, etc.

Physical activity is the other essential component of a heart-healthy lifestyle. Exercising five times a week for thirty minutes a day can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, which are among the leading causes of death in the country.