Stop Taking Multivitamins to Help Your Heart. Researchers Say They Don't Work.

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Multivitamins are popular, but they don't appear to boost your heart health, according to a new study.

The study, which analyzed information from several million people in five countries, found that taking multivitamins did not prevent heart attacks, strokes or death from heart disease.

The findings agree with guidelines from the American Heart Association, which do not recommend using multivitamins or mineral supplements to prevent cardiovascular disease.

Still, multivitamins remain popular, with up to 30 percent of Americans using the products; and some people reportedly using them to prevent heart disease, the researchers said. [9 New Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy]

"It has been exceptionally difficult to convince people… to acknowledge that multivitamin and mineral supplements don't prevent cardiovascular diseases," study lead author Dr. Joonseok Kim, an assistant professor of cardiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said in a statement. "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.

In the new study, the researchers analyzed information from 18 previously published studies that looked at the link between multivitamins and mineral supplements and the risk of certain cardiovascular problems. (The researchers included supplements that contained more than 3 vitamins or minerals.) Together these studies involved more than 2 million people from five countries (the United States, Japan, France, Sweden and Germany); and participants were followed for an average of 12 years.

Overall, people who took multivitamin and mineral supplements were no more likely to have a heart attack or a stroke, or die from heart disease, compared with those who didn't take these supplements.

"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 healthcare provider to create a plan that uses proven measures to reduce risk," Kim said.

In the United States, dietary supplements are not regulated for safety or effectiveness before they go to market, according to the Food and Drug Administration. However, the products' labels are not allowed to make health claims about the ability of the product to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat or prevent disease.

Original article on Live Science.

Rachael Rettner

Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.