Another Study Finds Multivitamins Don’t Help Prevent Cardiovascular Disease

Janet Tiberian Author
By Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES
August 17, 2018
Multivitamins Don't Help Prevent Cardiovascular Disease

More than one-third of Americans take multivitamins, despite little evidence that they help (there’s little evidence they cause harm either). And now a new study says multivitamins don’t promote cardiovascular health

Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham conducted a meta-analysis of 18 individually published studies involving more than 12 million participants for the study, which was published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. Study designs included randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies and had an average follow up time of 12 years. Researchers found no association between taking multivitamins or mineral supplements and a lower risk of a cardiovascular-related death.

"I’m not surprised by the results,” says Leslie Emhof, MD, MDVIP-affiliated physician and geriatrician. “Over the last decade several studies were published that didn’t find a link between multivitamins and cardiovascular disease prevention.” 

Two examples of studies with similar results include a study published in American College of Cardiology in which researchers reviewed 179 randomized trials published between 2012 and 2017 and found no correlation between multivitamin usage and cardiovascular disease prevention. And a randomized control trial published several years ago in JAMA found that multivitamins didn’t help men help prevent cardiovascular disease

Vitamin supplements are often used to treat nutritional deficiencies that can lead to disease, so it may seem logical to use them to forestall cardiovascular disease, the number one cause of death in the U.S. But research doesn’t yet support this use. In addition to multivitamins, earlier studies have also shown that vitamin C and E supplements -- which were thought to have heart-healthy properties -- also do nothing to prevent cardiovascular events.

A small study conducted by University of California Berkeley did find that vitamin C supplements helped lower C-reactive protein levels, a strong indicator of inflammation and risk for cardiovascular disease. However, a much larger, eight-year clinical trial conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found taking vitamin C and E supplements had no bearing on cardiovascular health. 

“These results reinforce the importance of living a heart-healthy lifestyle, which include eating healthy, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep, managing your stress and quitting smoking,” says Emhof. “You have to remember that supplements are just that – supplements and cannot make up for poor dietary habits.”

Other types of supplements, such as fish oil, are still considered helpful by experts because they’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which helps lower inflammation and the risk for cardiovascular disease. But results are mixed; it’s important to discuss fish oil supplements with your doctor before taking them. Always talk to your doctor before making a change in the vitamins you take.

Want to learn more about preventing heart disease? Talk to your primary care doctor. If you need a doctor, check out MDVIP. We’re a nationwide network of physicians who focus on personalized medicine and prevention. Find one near you and begin your partnership in health »

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About the Author
Janet Tiberian Author
Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES

Janet Tiberian is MDVIP's health educator. She has more than 25 years experience in chronic disease prevention and therapeutic exercise.

View All Posts By Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES
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