By: Marina Wang
Common belief holds that supplementary vitamins can boost overall health and longevity, but a new study has found that to be largely untrue—at least when it comes to heart health. According to a review published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the most commonly used vitamin supplements had no conclusive effect on cardiovascular disease, stroke, or general mortality. The exception was folic acid, which was found to reduce the risk of strokes.
The study published earlier this month examined 179 controlled trials from 2012 to October 2017 in a systematic review and meta-analysis. The most common supplements—multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium and vitamin C—had little to no effect on either heart health or mortalityhttps://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0735109718345601.
Folic acid and B-complex vitamins were the only common supplements that improved health by reducing the risk of strokes. “This folic acid effect was the substantial new positive finding on supplement use,” reads the paper. “Whether these data are sufficient to change clinical practice in areas of the world where folic acid food fortification is already in place is still a matter for discussion,” said Dr. David Jenkins, lead author of the study.
Furthermore, the researchers found a slight association between niacin (vitamin B3) and antioxidants with an increased risk of mortality.
The paper also noted that supplements used to be taken to remedy vitamin deficiencies but have more recently been popularized for general or preventative health. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Up to 52% of the American population take supplements, with the most common being multivitamins at 31%, vitamin D at 19%, calcium at 14%, and vitamin C at 12%.
The study comes after the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended three diets to reduce the risk of heart disease: a vegetarian diet, a Mediterranean diet, or an American diet low in unhealthy fats and red meat but high in fruits and vegetables.
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