DALLAS — Many Americans take multivitamins and other mineral supplements every day as part of their diets with the hope of maintaining optimal health and extending their lifespan. But do they really provide any benefit? New research published in an American Heart Association journal claims that vitamin supplements have no effect on heart health, and won’t reduce one’s odds of suffering a heart attack, stroke, or even death from a heart-related condition.
Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham examined data from 18 different studies on multivitamin and mineral supplements. Results for more than 2 million people were recorded, with an average follow-up about 12 years from the start of their respective study. Looking at the health outcomes of the participants across all studies, the research team found no proof that taking vitamin supplements prevented death from heart diseases.
“We meticulously evaluated the body of scientific evidence,” explains study lead author Dr. Joonseok Kim, an assistant professor of cardiology in the university’s Department of Medicine, in a statement. “We found no clinical benefit of multivitamin and mineral use to prevent heart attacks, strokes or cardiovascular death.”
The research only adds to a growing body of evidence that vitamin and mineral supplements are more taboo than anything else. One recent study found that even people who consumed unhealthy diets fared no better when they took multivitamins. Yet despite the reports, the market for supplements continues to flourish: according to American Heart Association, sales across the global nutritional supplement industry are expected to reach $278 billion by 2024. It’s estimated that 30 percent of Americans currently consume the supplements regularly.
Kim hopes that perhaps this latest meta-analysis will convince more Americans to save their money.
“It has been exceptionally difficult to convince people, including nutritional researchers, to acknowledge that multivitamin and mineral supplements don’t prevent cardiovascular diseases,” says 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.”
Kim says while the research shows no health benefits, there doesn’t seem to be any harm in taking vitamin supplements either. Still, in light of the research, the American Heart Association does not recommend using multivitamin or mineral supplements to prevent cardiovascular diseases.
“Eat a healthy diet for a healthy heart and a long, healthy life,” suggests Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, the American Heart Association’s chief medical officer for prevention and chief of the Association’s Centers for Health Metrics and Evaluation, who was not a part of the study. “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 full study was published July 10, 2018 in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.