Multivitamins do not prevent heart disease or stroke

By June Shannon Nutrition News   |   18th Jul 2018

Study found no benefit of multivitamins or mineral supplements to cardiovascular health

Taking multivitamin and mineral supplements does not prevent heart attacks, strokes or cardiovascular death, a new study has confirmed.

For the research a team of scientists in the US analysed a number of studies involving more than 2 million people with an average follow up of 12 years and found no association between taking multivitamin and mineral supplements and a lower risk of death from cardiovascular diseases.

“We meticulously evaluated the body of scientific evidence,” said study lead author Dr Joonseok Kim, Assistant Professor of Cardiology in the Department of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the US.

“We found no clinical benefit of multivitamin and mineral use to prevent heart attacks, strokes or cardiovascular death.”

“It has been exceptionally difficult to convince people, including nutritional researchers, to acknowledge that multivitamin and mineral supplements don’t prevent cardiovascular diseases,” said Dr Kim.

"We found no clinical benefit of multivitamin and mineral use to prevent heart attacks, strokes or cardiovascular death,"

Dr Joonseok Kim, , University of Alabama, US

“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.”

Controversy about the effectiveness of multivitamin and mineral supplements to prevent cardiovascular diseases has been going on for years, despite numerous well-conducted research studies suggesting they don’t help. The authors set out to combine the results from previously published scientific studies to help clarify the topic.

“Although multivitamin and mineral supplements taken in moderation rarely cause direct harm, we 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,” Dr Kim said.

"We do not recommend people take multivitamins to help prevent heart disease and stroke,"

Sarah Noone, dietitian, Irish Heart Foundation

Commenting on the study, Ms Sarah Noone, dietitian with the Irish Heart Foundation said, there was no ‘quick fix’ when it came to nutrition and heart health and taking a multivitamin supplement was not a replacement for a healthy balanced diet.

According to Sarah, “While specific groups of the population such as pregnant women, young children and the elderly, may need nutritional supplements, we do not recommend people take multivitamins to help prevent heart disease and stroke, which this review supports. A wide range of supplements are available on the market some of which make health claims however the benefits of supplements have not been backed up by strong evidence. None of the most recent guidance recommends the use of dietary supplements for the prevention or management of heart disease and stroke.”

Sarah advised that instead of taking multivitamins the focus should be on eating a healthy balanced diet that has lots of vegetables, fruit, salads, whole grains, and pulses, modest amounts of oils, low fat dairy, oily fish, meat and low intakes of foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

“We know in particular in Ireland the majority of us are not meeting the recommendations for 5-7 portions of vegetables, salad and fruit a day. So, asking yourself how many portions are you having a day and how can you increase this is a good place to start. If you’re thinking about taking a supplement that hasn’t been prescribed, talk to your doctor before spending money and make sure not to exceed your daily requirements.”

(This study was published recently in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal)

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