Are multivitamins no help against heart disease? Millions of Americans take multivitamins, perhaps as many as 40 percent of older adults. A new study suggests that mixed vitamin and mineral formulations are not effective for preventing heart disease (Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes , online July 10, 2018).
Multivitamins No Help for Heart Attack or Stroke Prevention:
The research, published in Circulation, was a meta-analysis including more than two million volunteers and 18 million person-years of follow-up. The analysis found no link between multi-vitamin and mineral supplements and death from cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes. The scientists advise against taking multivitamins, not because they pose serious risks, but simply because they are not effective for preventing heart disease.
Other Research That Shows Multivitamins No Help for Heart:
This should come as no surprise. A similar meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology last month came to a comparable conclusion (Journal of the American College of Cardiology, June 2018). No doubt there was some overlap in the studies that were analyzed. A single vitamin, folic acid, was associated with a slightly lower risk of strokes and heart attacks in the JACC study.
Could Multivitamins Have Other Benefits?
What the authors did not address was the relationship between multivitamins and the chance of getting cancer. The Physicians’ Health Study, a randomized controlled trial (the gold standard), found a slightly lower risk of cancer among the volunteers taking multivitamins (JAMA, Nov. 14, 2012).
Of course, everyone agrees that eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits is desirable. For those who have a hard time following such a dietary pattern, however, a multivitamin is unlikely to do any harm and might make sense. Pregnant women and people taking medications that deplete the body of essential nutrients may get particular benefit from vitamin supplements. You can learn more about vitamin and mineral supplements from our interview with Dr. JoAnn Manson and Dr. Tieraona Low Dog. It is Show 1124: Should You Be Taking Vitamin Supplements?