No heart benefit from multivitamins, even if you have a lousy diet

Research we're watching

Published: July, 2017

Image: © namenko/Thinkstock

Do you swallow a daily multivitamin, hoping to make up for a less-than-ideal diet? Sorry, but this strategy won't stave off heart disease, according to a study published online April 5, 2017, by JAMA Cardiology.

Previous research has also failed to find convincing evidence that a daily multivitamin lowers the risk of heart disease or cancer. But these studies didn't always account for the participant's dietary habits, which could potentially skew the results. In theory, people with poor diets might reap greater benefits from vitamins than those who eat healthier diets.

The new study (which re-analyzed findings from one of the earlier reports, the Physician's Health Study II) included 13,316 men ages 50 and older. All filled out detailed diet questionnaires and were randomly assigned to take a multivitamin or placebo. After an average follow-up of 11 years, researchers found no difference in the rates of heart attacks and other serious cardiovascular events between the two groups, regardless of their baseline nutritional status. The results bolster the argument to get your nutrients from foods, not pills.

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.