Research has found that almost all vitamin pills and other dietary supplements don’t lead to a longer life or protection from heart disease

These are findings from a massive new analysis of findings from 277 clinical trials which included 992 129 research participants worldwide.

Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers found that most of the supplements or diets were not associated with any harm, and only showed possible health benefits from a low-salt diet, omega-3 fatty acid supplements and possibly folic acid supplements for some people.

Researchers also found that supplements combining calcium and vitamin D may in fact be linked to a slightly increased stroke risk.

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“The panacea or magic bullet that people keep searching for in dietary supplements isn’t there,” says senior author of the study Erin D. Michos, M.D., M.H.S., associate director of preventive cardiology at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

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People should focus on getting their nutrients from a heart-healthy diet because the data increasingly show that the majority of healthy adults don’t need to take supplements.”

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Vitamins and diets reviewed by researchers

The vitamin and other supplements reviewed included: antioxidants, beta-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 from fish oil.

The diets reviewed were a Mediterranean diet, a reduced saturated fat (less fats from meat and dairy) diet, modified dietary fat intake (less saturated fat or replacing calories with more unsaturated fats or carbohydrates), a reduced-fat diet, a reduced salt diet in healthy people and those with high blood pressure, increased alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) diet (nuts, seeds and vegetable oils), and increased omega-6 fatty acid diet (nuts, seeds and vegetable oils).

“People should focus on getting their nutrients from a heart-healthy diet because the data increasingly show that the majority of healthy adults don’t need to take supplements.” – Dr  Erin D. Michos

Overall, these studies suggested that supplement use was linked to an eight per cent reduction in heart attack risk and a seven per cent reduction in coronary heart disease compared to those not on the supplements. The researchers ranked evidence for a beneficial link to this intervention as low.

They also found that folic acid was linked to a 20 per cent reduced risk of stroke.

“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,” says lead author Safi U. Khan, M.D., an assistant professor of Medicine at West Virginia University.

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine via

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