Most supplements have no discernible health benefits

    17 July 2019

    Almost all vitamin, mineral and other nutrient supplements or diets cannot be linked to longer life or protection from heart disease, according to new research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

    In a large analysis of findings from 277 clinical trials using 24 different interventions, scientists from Johns Hopkins say they have found that although most supplements are not associated with any harm (supplements combining calcium and vitamin D may be linked to a slightly increased stroke risk) they have no discernible benefits.

    The study’s senior author, Erin D. Michos, said: ‘The panacea or magic bullet that people keep searching for in dietary supplements isn’t there. People should focus on getting their nutrients from a heart-healthy diet, because the data increasingly shows that the majority of healthy adults don’t need to take supplements.’

    In the current study, the researchers used data from 277 randomised clinical trials that evaluated 16 vitamins or other supplements and eight diets for their association with mortality or heart conditions including coronary heart disease, stroke, and heart attack. All together they included data gathered on 992,129 research participants worldwide.

    The vitamin and other supplements reviewed included: antioxidants, β-carotene, vitamin B-complex, multivitamins, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin B3/niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D alone, calcium alone, calcium and vitamin D together, folic acid, iron and omega-3 fatty acid (fish oil). The majority showed no link to increased or decreased risk of death or heart health.

    The study’s lead author, Safi U. Khan, said: ‘Our analysis carries a simple message that although there may be some evidence that a few interventions have an impact on death and cardiovascular health, the vast majority of multivitamins, minerals and different types of diets had no measurable effect on survival or cardiovascular disease risk reduction.’