Supplements and heart health
Millions of people who take dietary supplements to protect their heart are likely getting no health benefit—and in some cases might be harming themselves. That’s the conclusion of a new meta-analysis of 277 studies, which together included nearly 1 million people, to determine supplements’ effect on cardiovascular health. The researchers found that only a few of the 16 supplements and eight diets tested appeared to do any good. Omega 3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish oil, appeared to lower the risk of heart attacks and coronary heart disease. Folic acid was linked with a reduced risk of stroke. But the evidence for those benefits wasn’t particularly strong. Vitamin A, B, C, D, and E supplements didn’t appear to help heart health at all; nor did calcium, iron, or multivitamins. Furthermore, researchers found, taking calcium with vitamin D increases the risk of stroke, possibly because it increases blood clotting and hardens arteries. “People who are taking these supplements for the sake of improving their cardiovascular health are wasting their money,” lead author Safi Khan, from West Virginia University, tells The New York Times.