Do multivitamins really help prevent heart disease?

According to the latest study, multivitamins may be able to reduce your risk of cancer but they have no effect on heart disease. A group of researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital undertook a long term study in which they had a group of 15,000 male physicians, age 50 and over, take Centrum Silver multivitamins or a placebo every day for about 11 years. They found that the vitamins had no effect on risk of heart attack, stroke or heart disease.

In discussing the results, study leader Howard Sesso said; “The way we view this study is that there’s no obvious reason to take a daily multivitamin solely for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. But it’s perhaps narrow-minded to think that we shouldn’t take multivitamins at all considering our findings with cancer prevention.”

While the findings were disappointing in regards to heart health, the study did discover that those who took a daily multivitamin were able to lower their cancer risk by about 8%.

The study serves as a reminder that there is no quick fix to lower the risk of heart disease. In an editorial that accompanied the study Dr. Eva Lonn went on to say; “many people with heart disease risk factors…lead sedentary lifestyles, eat processed or fast foods, continue to smoke, and stop taking life-saving prescribed medications, but purchase and regularly use vitamins and other dietary supplements, in the hope that this approach will prevent a future myocardial infarction or stroke. This distraction from effective cardiovascular disease prevention is the main hazard of using vitamins and other unproven supplements.”

The best way to prevent heart disease lies mainly in lifestyle changes. Adding whole grains, fruits and vegetables to your diet, exercising regularly, and limiting smoking and alcohol consumption are still the most effective ways to cut the risk of heart attack or stroke.

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