A large new analysis conducted by researchers at West Virginia University found that there was surprisingly little proof that supplements have the ability to prevent heart disease. According to the results of the study, the majority of the dietary supplement types analyzed offered no benefits at all when it came to protecting against heart attacks, stroke or deaths from heart disease. The new research has been published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
According to some estimates, more than half of Americans use dietary supplements, with millions of them using the supplements as a way to protect their heart health. Americans are projected to spend $32 billion on supplements and vitamins this year. That is a staggering amount of money if the supplements do nothing. Lead author of the study, Dr. Safi Khan, an assistant clinical professor of internal medicine at West Virginia University, said, “People who are taking these supplements for the sake of improving their cardiovascular health are wasting their money.”
For the analysis, Dr. Khan and his colleagues examined data from 277 randomized controlled trials of cardiovascular prevention involving a total of 992,000 people. Of 16 popular supplements reviewed, only three had any noticeable effect on cardiovascular outcomes. Two had effects that could be viewed as positive, while the other was clearly negative.
The supplements that showed no evidence of cardiovascular protection included vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, along with beta-carotene, calcium, iron, antioxidants, and multivitamins. Folic acid was found to lower the risk of stroke, while omega-3 fatty acids, the kind found in fish oil, showed some benefits for preventing heart disease, but the evidence was fairly weak. Taking calcium with vitamin D appeared to increase the risk of stroke.
The current consensus is that it’s better to get nutrients from foods, not supplements. Nutrition experts say that a diet full of vegetables and fruit is sufficient to meet recommended nutrient levels for most people.