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Do Supplements Help Prevent CVD?

May 30, 2018

There is still not enough consistent evidence to determine whether supplemental vitamins and minerals are beneficial for the prevention cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all-cause mortality, with the exception of folic acid for stroke risk, according to new research.

These findings are largely consistent with the 2014 recommendation statement from the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), which indicated that current evidence at the time was insufficient to evaluate the benefits and harms of these supplements for CVD and cancer prevention.

Furthermore, these findings reinforce that it is likely still best to adopt a healthy diet filled with plant-based foods, which are rich in naturally derived vitamins and minerals, rather than rely on vitamin and mineral supplements.

The authors of the study arrived at this conclusion following a systematic review of meta-analysis of 179 individual studies published from January 2012 through October 2017. Of these, 15 were published after the USPSTF’s assessment.

Specifically, the researchers investigated data regarding the effects of 4 commonly used supplements—multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin C—on all-cause mortality, CVD mortality, and total CVD risk or related outcomes, such as myocardial infarction (MI) and stroke.

Data on supplements previously reported on by the USPSTF—including vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 (niacin), B6, B9 (folic acid), C, D, and E, as well as β-carotene, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and selenium—were also assessed.

Ultimately, the results of the meta-analysis indicated that none of the 4 most commonly used supplements had any significant effect on CV outcomes or all-cause mortality.

However, folic acid alone and B-vitamins with folic acid, B6, and B12 were found to reduce stroke risks, and niacin and antioxidants were found to increase all-cause mortality risk.

—Christina Vogt

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