A study recently published in an American Heart Association journal has shown that supplementing the diet with multivitamins and minerals does not prevent against heart attacks, strokes or cardiovascular events that lead to death.
The findings come from a meta-analysis of 18 studies, including randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies that covered data available for more than 2 million people who were followed for an average of 12 years.
As reported in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, no association was found between taking multivitamin and mineral supplements and a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular diseases.
Lead author Joonseok Kim from the University of Alabama says: "We meticulously evaluated the body of scientific evidence. We found no clinical benefit of multivitamin and mineral use to prevent heart attacks, strokes or cardiovascular death."
Kim says it has been extremely challenging trying to convince people that taking these supplements does not protect against cardiovascular problems: "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."
The argument over how effective the supplements are at preventing cardiovascular disease has been going on for years, despite the large body of scientific evidence suggesting they confer no benefit.
Kim and colleagues therefore set out to settle the topic by pooling and assessing the results of previously published research.
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,"
Joonseok Kim, University of Alabama
Chief medical officer of the American Heart Association, Eduardo Sanchez, agrees and recommends that if people want a healthy heart and long, healthy life, they should stick to a healthy diet: "There's just no substitute for a balanced, nutritious diet with more fruits and vegetables that limits excess calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, sugar and dietary cholesterol."