While multivitamins can be useful for treating vitamin deficiencies, they won’t lower risk for heart disease, based on a review of study data from more than 2 million adults.
Published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, this review looked at the impact of multivitamins on heart health.
The review included 18 studies conducted since the 1970s, which together included more than 2 million participants. Eleven studies were conducted in the United States, four were from Europe and three were from Japan.
Each study collected information about multivitamin use and tracked key outcomes like heart disease, stroke and death. Participants were 58 years old on average at the start of the study and followed for an average of 12 years.
After analysis, researchers found no difference in risk for heart disease, stroke and heart-related death among adults who took multivitamins and those who did not. The analysis adjusted for important factors that could impact outcomes such as age, sex, smoking and physical activity.
In this study, multivitamins were defined as including at least three vitamins or minerals, and they did not include herbs, hormones or prescription drugs.
As experts note, this type of analysis is not perfect since researchers can’t account for every possible factor associated with outcomes. Also, not all studies could adjust for important factors like fruit and vegetable consumption, since they didn’t collect that type of data.
However, findings suggest there are no clear cardiovascular benefits from taking multivitamins.
According to experts, these findings are far from surprising in this day and age. Many foods are now fortified with important nutrients and few individuals are truly deficient in critical vitamins and minerals. Experts also explain that since there are so many powerful factors that impact risk for heart disease like diet, exercise and family history, it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to identify a clear association between multivitamins and heart health.
Of course, that’s not to say that multivitamins are useless. Multivitamins may be recommended for other conditions and can help treat vitamin and mineral deficiencies. However, what this study shows is that they shouldn’t be taken specifically for heart health, since there’s no clear cardiovascular benefit.