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Study: Multivitamins do not protect heart health

New research from the American Heart Association has found that multivitamin and mineral supplements do not help to prevent heart attacks, stroke, or other fatal cardiovascular events.

Study lead author Dr. Joonseok Kim is an assistant professor of Cardiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“We meticulously evaluated the body of scientific evidence,” said Dr. Kim. “We found no clinical benefit of multivitamin and mineral use to prevent heart attacks, strokes or cardiovascular death.”

The meta-analysis was based on the review of 18 previous studies. Overall, the research involved more than two million participants with an average of 12 years of follow-ups with the individuals.

The experts found no association between taking multivitamin and mineral supplements and a lower risk of fatal cardiovascular disease.

“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. “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 nutritional supplement industry is expected to hit $278 billion globally by 2024, and around 30 percent of Americans use some form of supplements. According to the Food and Drug Administration, there are no regulations in place that require dietary supplements to be approved for safety or effectiveness.

The relationship between dietary supplements and cardiovascular disease has been debated for many years, despite the findings of many studies that there is no association.

“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,” said Dr. Kim.

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

Using multivitamin or mineral supplements to guard against cardiovascular disease is not recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA).

Dr. Eduardo Sanchez the AHA’s chief medical officer for prevention.

“Eat a healthy diet for a healthy heart and a long, healthy life,” said Dr. Sanchez. “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.”

The research is published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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