Harvard Heart Letter

Research we're watching: Vitamin supplements no help against heart disease

Enough is enough: stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements." This stark advice, from an editorial in Annals of Internal Medicine, stems from two new studies that found no clear evidence that vitamin and mineral supplements can prevent cardiovascular disease.



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In one study, researchers pooled findings from 27 trials of multivitamins or vitamins A, C, or D; folic acid; selenium; or calcium, taken alone or in combinations. Together, the trials included more than 400,000 older people; none had known nutritional deficiencies. Vitamin use did not lower rates of heart disease, cancer, or death over all.

The other study looked at whether high-dose multivitamin and mineral supplements could prevent cardiovascular complications in heart attack survivors. Just over 1,700 people (mostly older men) were randomly assigned to take supplements or placebos. After two to four years of follow-up, researchers found no differences between the two groups in the rates of recurrent heart attacks, strokes, or other complications. Now, most experts agree that getting your vitamins and minerals from foods is a far better strategy. Whole, minimally processed foods contain a wide array of other substances that contribute to health.

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