Multivitamins do not prevent CVD, death

In a new analysis of 18 previous studies, researchers found no link between consumption of multivitamins and mineral supplements (MVM) and prevention of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) or death. Findings were published on July 10 in Circulation.

“Multiple studies have attempted to identify the association between MVM supplementation and CVD outcomes, but the benefits remain controversial,” wrote lead author Joonseok Kim, MD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues. “We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of the associations between MVM supplementation and various CVD outcomes, including coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke. 

The researchers conducted the meta-analysis using 18 previously published studies from Jan. 1970 to Aug. 2016, that encompassed more than two million participants and had more than 18 million person-years of follow up.

Kim and colleagues found no association between consumption of MVM supplements and CVD mortality, coronary heart disease mortality, stroke mortality or stroke incidence.

The researchers did find that taking a multivitamin was associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease incidence. But, they said, the association was ultimately not significant in other trials.

“It has been exceptionally difficult to convince people, including nutritional researchers, to acknowledge that multivitamin and mineral supplements don’t prevent cardiovascular diseases,” Kim said in a prepared statement issued by the American Heart Association. “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.”

The American Heart Association estimates 30 percent of Americans use MVM supplements, and the global vitamin/supplement industry is expected to reach $278 billion by 2024. 

“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 statement. "These include a heart-healthy diet, exercise, tobacco cessation, controlling blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels, and when needed, medical treatment."