Dietary supplements, as we all know, are extraordinarily popular today. They are widely used by people of all ages and backgrounds. They are used to supplement people’s diets, to help you obtain recommended levels of essential nutrients. They are used by some to prevent health problems in the future, such as calcium supplements for osteoporosis and fish oil for heart problems.
A new study sought to examine the association between multivitamin use and heart attacks in about 34,000 adult women. Was there a link? Could multivitamins help shield a person from serious cardiac events?
They compared 31,671 women with no history of heart disease with 2,262 who did have a history, all aged between 49 and 83. In 1997, the women finished a survey about dietary supplement use, diet, and lifestyle factors. The multivitamins were estimated to contain nutrients close to recommended daily allowances: vitamin A (0.9 mg); vitamin C (60 mg); vitamin D (5.0 µg); vitamin E (9.0 mg); thiamine (1.2 mg); riboflavin (1.4 mg); vitamin B-6 (1.8 mg); vitamin B-12 (3.0 µg); and folic acid (400 µg).
Here is what they found. In an average of 10 years of follow-up, 932 cases of heart attacks occurred in the women with no history of heart disease and 269 cases in the other. In the first group, use of multivitamins was directly linked with a 27% reduced risk of a heart attack. That protection rose to 30% if you combined multivitamins with other supplements. But the number for supplements other than multivitamins was only a seven-percent reduced risk.
Now, for those in the study who did have a history of heart disease, multivitamin use was not associated to a reduced risk of heart attack. This suggests that if you do have a heart free of problems, you could boost protection against heart attacks just by popping a daily multivitamin/mineral.
The researchers conclude that more studies are needed with detailed information on the content of those multivitamins, as well as how long it takes to get the heart benefits. This way, we’ll know the best blend of vitamin ingredients in each supplement.
Any way you slice it, this is a very promising piece of research.