Many consumers take multivitamins or supplements as a quick and easy way to improve their health. However, a growing body of research suggests that popular supplements do little to improve health.
A new study, which analyzed information from 18 previously published studies examining the link between multivitamins and mineral supplements and the risk of certain cardiovascular problems, suggests that vitamin and mineral supplements do nothing to prevent heart disease.
After tracking more than two million people in five countries for an average of 12 years, the researchers concluded that multivitamins did not prevent heart attacks, strokes, or death from heart disease.
Do not promote heart health
Findings from the new study are in line with guidelines from the American Heart Association, which doesn’t recommend using multivitamins or mineral supplements as a way to stave off cardiovascular disease.
Despite these recommendations, up to 30 percent of U.S. consumers take these products. Some people reportedly use them to prevent heart disease, the researchers noted.
"It has been exceptionally difficult to convince people… to acknowledge that multivitamin and mineral supplements don't prevent cardiovascular diseases," study lead author Dr. Joonseok Kim, an assistant professor of cardiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said in a statement.
"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 said.
Healthy diet can lower risk
The new findings come on the heels of prior studies which showed that supplements have few, if any, health benefits. In May, a separate study concluded that three popular supplements provide no consistent health benefits.
Kim and his team stressed that consumers shouldn’t rely on pills to boost their overall health. Engaging in daily physical activity, not smoking, and following a healthy diet are still among the best ways to lower heart disease risk, the researchers said.
"We know that fruit and vegetable intake improves cardiovascular health," Kim said.
"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," Kim said.
The new research has been published in the journal Circulation.