3 in 4 Americans make use of dietary supplements. But do these pills improve heart health? No. They have no benefit for cardiovascular functioning or mortality. In fact, they may even harm heart health. These are the conclusions of a new report published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
A meta-analysis of different studies was conducted to find results. The study included researchers from three institutions; the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, West Virginia University, and Mayo Clinic.
Supplements More Harmful Than Good?
For the research, scientists analyzed data from 277 previous studies. In total, these included 1 million participants. Not much evidence supported the use of dietary supplements for heart health. Those studies that did hint that supplements could benefit cardiovascular health were lacking in terms of quality.
Researchers found that fish oil, omega-3, supplements did some good to heart health. Moreover, folic acid did reduce the risk of stroke. However, other mineral and vitamin supplements had no impact at all on heart health. Supplements that didn’t show any influence included those of iron, vitamin A, B, multivitamins, and antioxidants.
Some supplements even caused harm to heart health. The study found that a combination of vitamin D and calcium can increase stroke risk. But researchers aren’t sure if taking supplements alone increases the risk of stroke. It could be that stroke risk increases when people consume vitamin D and calcium supplements despite consuming a diet rich in them. This is not the first time calcium has been linked to increased risk of heart-related problems, though.
Dr. Safi Khan, the first author of the study, said, “The majority of supplements have no effect on improving survival or reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke.” Khan further told NBC news, “Please stop spending money on these supplements for the sake of improving cardiovascular health. Because they don’t.”
Are Diets Any Good?
Dietary and lifestyle changes are often recommended to improve heart health. Exercise and a low-salt intake can be helpful. However, particular diets, praised for their heart healthiness, may fail. Only a few studies showed that the Mediterranean diet had any impact on heart health.
Several studies do prove, though, that reduced salt intake can improve heart health and lower disease risk. This is because a decreased salt intake can help with blood pressure regulation. There’s a need for more studies of high-quality to look at the effect of foods on heart attack and stroke.
Talking about the Mediterranean diet, doctors still often recommend such diets. This is because they help with weight loss by limiting calorie consumption. Researchers need more evidence. However, some suggests that the Mediterranean diet does lower the risk of cardiovascular outcomes.
Most supplements are not of much use when it comes to benefiting heart health. Diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, may help lower risk. However, more studies are required to see the link between foods and heart attack and stroke. Lowering salt and calorie intake overall can help reduce the risk of heart disease.