In the past, many research studies suggested that vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin D help prevent cardiovascular disease. As a result, many people adopted the use of daily multivitamins as a precaution against heart attack. Now, over half of the American population takes at least one vitamin regularly, and approximately 40 percent take a multivitamin daily. Today, scientists continue to conduct research in order to answer questions like what are the benefits to multivitamins? Do multivitamins reduce heart attack risk? According to research, they may not actually reduce the risk of heart attack in men.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, followed 14,641 male physicians, ages 50 and older, for an average of 11 years. Researchers gave half of subjects a daily multivitamin and the other half an identical-looking placebo. Throughout the course of the study, researchers recorded any cardiovascular-related incidents, like stroke, heart attack, or death from heart disease. Surprisingly, both groups (those who took the multivitamin and those who took the placebo) had a similar number of incidents.
There were, however, a number of drawbacks to the participants selected for the study. For instance, all participants were physicians. Physicians typically tend to be healthier, wealthier and more educated. With a healthier group of participants, scientists cannot know if multivitamins are the cause of their good health. In addition, this study was performed exclusively on men.
In addition to recording cardiovascular-related incidents, scientists observed how taking multivitamins affected the subjects’ daily routine. Surprisingly, they found that many used the vitamins in place of making healthy lifestyle choices. According to Dr. Eva Loan of McMaster University, “many people with heart disease risk factors or previous [cardiovascular disease] events lead sedentary lifestyles, eat processed or fast foods, continue to smoke, and stop taking lifesaving prescribed medications, but purchase and regularly use vitamins and other dietary supplements, in the hope that this approach will prevent a future [heart attack] or stroke.” Howard Sesso, an author of the study agreed and said, “many people take vitamins as a crutch. There’s no substitute for a heart-healthy diet and exercise.”
The researchers did not find any evidence that multivitamins were detrimental to heart health. They stressed that their study only examined the effect of multivitamins on cardiovascular disease. Multivitamins may be useful in guarding against other diseases such as cancer and osteoporosis. However, your best bet for optimal heart health is doing as researchers suggest of eating a healthy diet and getting a sufficient amount of regular exercise. That is the surest way to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.