Newswise — BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A new study led by University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes shows that taking multivitamin and mineral supplements does not prevent strokes, heart attacks or deaths related to cardiovascular disease. 

The research team performed a meta-analysis, putting together the results from 18 individual published studies, including randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies. The data set totaled more than 2 million participants with an average of 12 years of follow-up contact. Researchers found no association between taking multivitamin and mineral supplements and a lower risk of death from cardiovascular diseases.

“We meticulously evaluated the body of scientific evidence,” said lead author Joonseok Kim, M.D., assistant professor of cardiology in the Department of Medicine. “We found no clinical benefit of multivitamin and mineral use to prevent heart attacks, strokes or cardiovascular death.” 

According to Grand View Research, Inc., the global nutritional supplement industry is expected to reach $278 billion by 2024. Kim says it has been difficult to convince people, including nutritional researchers, to acknowledge that multivitamin and mineral supplements do not prevent cardiovascular diseases. The use of multivitamin and mineral dietary supplements is widespread in the United States and other developed countries. Kim says this is due to the popular belief that multivitamin supplements may help maintain and promote health by preventing various diseases, including cardiovascular disease. 

“I hope our study findings help decrease the hype around multivitamin and mineral supplements and encourage people to use proven methods to reduce their risk of cardiovascular diseases — such as eating more fruits and vegetables, exercising, and avoiding tobacco,” Kim said. 

Unlike prescription drugs, dietary supplements are not regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration. During the research process, Kim and his team followed the National Institutes of Health definition of multivitamin — a dietary supplement comprising more than three vitamin and mineral ingredients.

“Although multivitamin and mineral supplements taken in moderation rarely cause direct harm, we urge people to protect their heart health by understanding their individual risk for heart disease and stroke and working with a health care provider to create a plan that uses proven measures to reduce risk,” Kim said. “These include a heart-healthy diet, exercise, tobacco cessation, controlling blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels, and when needed, medical treatment.”

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Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes