People of all ages take a variety of health supplements, but it seems that the older crowd take more supplements specifically to include heart health. I have to admit that I’m one of those. Up to about 12 years ago, I took few supplements and even avoided taking commonly recommended vitamins. It was difficult for my wife or doctors to get me to take all of the medications they wanted me to take. After all, I grew up as an Arizona cowboy who learned to ‘cowboy up’ and take care of my own medical and health needs if at all possible.
As I reached 55 and discovered that my cowboy up philosophy to health wasn’t enough anymore. I was now a type 2 diabetic with high blood pressure. I turned to the internet and began researching vitamins and supplements that help diabetics, heart health, and even prostate health. From a guy who wouldn’t even take daily vitamins, I now take over 2 dozen various vitamins and supplements. Do I think they are working? All I can say is that I’m still here.
I know others who take 2-3 times the vitamins and supplements that I take and they are still here, but that doesn’t mean that they, or I, are getting any real positive benefits from any or all of them.
So, how does anyone know if the vitamins and supplements they are taking are helping their heart health?
After all, anyone can search the internet and find studies or alleged studies that tout the benefits of virtually every vitamin and supplement, including those that are supposed to help improve heart health, so are these studies or reports accurate? How does anyone know?
A new report is casting doubts on many vitamins and supplements that are touted to help improve heart health:
Now, a meta-analysis by researchers from different collaborating institutions — including The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, West Virginia University in Morgantown, and Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN — suggests that many interventions and even more supplements may have no protective effect for the heart, and some may even harm cardiovascular health.
In their research, Dr. Khan and team analyzed the data from 277 randomized controlled trials that had involved almost 1 million participants between them. They looked at the effects of 16 nutritional supplements and eight dietary interventions on cardiovascular health and mortality.
The supplements that they took into consideration were: selenium, multivitamins, iron, folic acid, calcium, calcium plus vitamin D, beta carotene, antioxidants, omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, and vitamins A, B complex, B-3, B-6, C, D, and E.
The dietary interventions included: modified dietary fat, reduced salt (in people with normal and high blood pressure), reduced saturated fat, Mediterranean diet, reduced dietary fat, higher intake of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and higher intake of omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid.
Dr. Khan and colleagues did find that some of these interventions had a positive effect. For instance, eating less salt may reduce the risk of premature death in people with normal blood pressure, although only with moderate certainty.
Moreover, they concluded that omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids protected against heart attacks and coronary heart disease and that there was an association between folic acid intake and a slightly lower risk of stroke, but all with only low certainty.
At the same time, however, other supplements and interventions seemed to either have no effect or be downright harmful.
The researchers found that taking multivitamins, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin B-6, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, calcium, folic acid, and iron did not significantly protect against cardiovascular problems and early death. They also noted that following a Mediterranean diet, reducing saturated fat intake, modifying fat intake, reducing dietary fat intake, and increasing the quantity of dietary omega-3 and omega-6 were not beneficial.
In fact, people who took calcium and vitamin D supplements together actually had a higher risk of experiencing a stroke, although only with moderate certainty…
Does this mean you should stop taking these vitamins and supplements? I’m not going to say to stop, but only offer this so that you can make your own decision. Yes, there are reports that say these things help, but then you see reports like this that say that many do not. If they don’t help with heart health, they may help with other health conditions. The decision is yours.