A recent study took a closer look at the controversy over the benefits of multivitamins for improving health and preventing diseases such as heart disease.
It is a popular belief that multivitamins help promote health by preventing diseases such as heart disease. Therefore, the use of multivitamins and dietary supplements is widespread in the United States and many other developed countries. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that unlike drugs, there are no provisions and laws to “approve” the safety and benefits of multivitamins and supplements before people consume these products. Although, the labels on multivitamins are not allowed to make health claims to cure, treat, or prevent a disease.
Despite advice against multivitamins for preventing heart disease, use of multivitamins remains high
Previous research has shown conflicting results when it comes to the potential benefits of multivitamin use in the general population. Various studies have shown there are health benefits for some heart conditions, but the majority has shown there are no benefits.
Given these conflicting results, the US Preventative Services Task Force and National Institutes of Health do not recommend people to routinely take multivitamins to help prevent heart disease. However, the use of multivitamins remains high with a survey in 2012 showing that approximately 30% of the US population use multivitamins. Also, with such a high number of people using multivitamins, the global nutritional supplement industry has been predicted to be worth $278 billion USD by 2024.
Researchers review studies to determine a link between multivitamins and specific heart disease
Although previous research has not found enough evidence to support the routine use of multivitamins, it is still difficult to convince people multivitamin use does not prevent heart disease. However, many of these studies did not assess whether the use of multivitamins affected the incidence of coronary heart disease or death due to a stroke. Therefore, US researchers recently conducted a comprehensive review of the literature to determine whether or not there is a link between the use of multivitamins and specific heart disease outcomes such as stroke and coronary heart disease.
The review included results from clinical trials and studies in the general population which looked at whether there was an association between multivitamins and heart disease outcomes. Their results which included 18 studies in total were published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. The 18 studies included over two million participants with an average follow-up time of 12 years. Only five studies included specific doses and type of supplement, whereas the remaining 13 did not.
No link found between multivitamins and death due to heart disease
After analyzing the data, the researchers found that overall there was no link between the use of multivitamins and death due to heart disease. The study also found there was no association between multivitamin use and heart disease in any particular subgroup such as average age, sex, amount of time multivitamins used for, type of population, diet, whether the participant was a smoker or not, level of physical activity or the study site. The study did find there was a link between multivitamin use and a lower risk of coronary heart disease incidence. However, this was not a significant link when subgroups were assessed.
There is no substitute for a balanced and nutritious diet
In conclusion, this review highlighted that the use of multivitamins does not improve and help prevent heart disease and outcomes, contrary to popular belief. The American Heart Association also does not recommend using multivitamins or supplements to prevent heart diseases. Instead, it is suggested that there is no substitution for a balanced and nutritious diet. Eating a healthy diet will help you keep a healthy heart to go on and live a long and healthy life.
Written by Lacey Hizartzidis, PhD
- Kim, J., Choi, J., Kwon, S. Y., McEvoy, J. W., Blaha, M. J., Blumenthal, R. S., … Michos, E. D. (2018). Association of Multivitamin and Mineral Supplementation and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, 11(7). Retrieved from http://circoutcomes.ahajournals.org/content/11/7/e004224.abstract.
- Multivitamins do not promote cardivascular health. AHA/ASA Newsroom website https://newsroom.heart.org/news/multivitamins-do-not-promote-cardiovascular-health. Accessed July 13, 2018.