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Most vitamin and mineral supplements have little impact on heart disease risk

Researchers recommend naturally derived nutrients from plant-based foods rather than supplements

Ingrid Torjesen

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Current research does not support that vitamin or mineral supplements are beneficial for preventing or treating heart disease, with the exception of folic acid for reducing stroke risk, according to a review article* published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Vitamins and minerals have long been used to treat nutrient deficiencies, and in recent years supplements have been promoted as a means for overall health and longevity.

However, despite high use, there is little agreement on whether individual vitamins or minerals or combination supplements should be taken to prevent or treat heart disease.

To determine if a benefit existed, researchers looked at 179 randomized controlled trials on vitamin and mineral supplement use published from January 2012 to October 2017. They found that data on the four most commonly used supplements--multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium and vitamin C--showed no consistent benefit for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction or stroke, nor was there a benefit for all-cause mortality. Folic acid alone and B-complex vitamins in which folic acid was a component did show a reduction in stroke; however, niacin (vitamin B3) and antioxidants were associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality.

The researchers said: “The current data on supplement use reinforce advice to focus on healthy dietary patterns, with an increased proportion of plant foods in which many of these required vitamins and minerals can be found.”

They added: “Although sufficient studies on vitamin D exist, to be confident that there is no all-cause mortality effect, further studies on multivitamins, the most commonly used supplement, may still be useful, because of the marginal benefit seen in our analysis.”

*Jenkins D J.A., David Spence D J., Giovannucci E L., et al. Supplemental Vitamins and Minerals for CVD Prevention and Treatment. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Volume 71, Issue 22, June 2018. DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2018.04.020

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