Daily multivitamin use doesn’t ward off heart attack, stroke

November 6, 2012 in Heart Health, Men's Health, Nutrition Topics in the News, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

Daily multivitamin use doesn’t ward off heart attack, stroke

According to a large, well-controlled study that included nearly 15,000 middle aged and older male physicians, taking a daily multivitamin for more than 10 years did not reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events, heart attack, stroke or dying from cardiovascular disease.

Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston analyzed data regarding multivitamin use and major cardiovascular events from the Physicians' Health Study (PHS) II, a large-scale trial testing the effects of long-term use of a common multivitamin on the risk of major cardiovascular events and cancer.

The Physicians' Health Study II is a randomized, placebo-controlled trial that began in 1997 with continued treatment and follow-up through June 1, 2011. A total of 14,641 male U.S. physicians initially 50 years of age or older, including 754 men with a history of cardiovascular disease, were enrolled. This analysis measured major cardiovascular events, including nonfatal heart attack, nonfatal stroke, and death from cardiovascular disease.

During the midpoint follow-up of 11.2 years, 1,732 men had major cardiovascular events, including 652 cases (first events) of heart attack and 643 cases of stroke and 829 men had cardiovascular death. The researchers found that there was no significant effect of a daily multivitamin on major cardiovascular events, heart attack or stroke. Taking a daily multivitamin was not related to death from cardiovascular disease.

These data do not support multivitamin use to prevent cardiovascular disease. The best defense against heart disease is eating a healthy diet that emphasizes whole, nutrient-packed foods, exercising regularly and not smoking.  The decision to take a multivitamin supplement should be based on bridging nutrient gaps and preventing nutrient deficiencies, rather that preventing chronic disease.

Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, November 7, 2012

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