Taking supplements for your heart? Save your money

Research we're watching

Published: October, 2019

Yet another study has found that most vitamin, mineral, and other nutritional supplements provide no protection against heart disease.

The new analysis, published July 8 in Annals of Internal Medicine, reviewed data from hundreds of clinical trials that pitted 16 different vitamins or other supplements against placebos. Most of them — including vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin D, multivitamins, calcium, iron, and selenium — showed no association with a higher or lower risk of heart disease or death.

Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish oil, did appear to confer a slight benefit. Based on findings pooled from 41 studies, people taking these supplements had an 8% lower risk of heart attack compared with those not taking the pills. However, an analysis of 20 studies of people who took combined calcium and vitamin D supplements pointed to a possible 17% higher risk of stroke.

According to a CDC survey, 52% of Americans take at least one vitamin or other nutritional supplement daily. As a nation, we spend $31 billion annually on such products. But this new study underscores the growing consensus that people should get their nutrients from food, not supplements, say the authors.

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