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Don’t Toss Out Your Vitamins Quite Yet

Multivitamins and Your Heart

I’m not sure the news media have it in for nutritional supplements… but that’s the impression some of their headlines give.

Most of the headlines on a recent study seem to say we’ve heard the final word. And that word is taking multivitamins won’t boost heart health. But is that what the study really proves? I don’t think so. And here’s why…

The study – published in the Journal of the American Medical Association – followed more than 14,000 men for 11 years. In the end, they found no heart benefit from taking a multivitamin.1

That seems pretty cut and dried. Big study… fairly long follow-up. So what’s wrong with the headlines?

First, this is what you might call a “trust me” study. The findings are based entirely on self-reporting.

  • The men were mailed packages of vitamins – or a placebo – every year and asked to take them daily. No one really knows who actually took them and who didn’t.
  • Heart trouble was also self-reported. While reported problems were verified, it’s entirely possible some heart problems went unreported.

The second concern is the product used in this study.

It was a “supermarket” vitamin. That is, it’s one of the products you can usually find on a supermarket shelf.

These products are made mostly with synthetic (man-made) vitamins. And as I’ve written to you in the past, studies show that natural vitamins are often more easily absorbed and more effective.

Natural multivitamin products also usually come with many “co-factors” found in foods along with the vitamins. These co-factors often enhance the effects of the vitamin. For example, bioflavonoids are typically found with vitamin C in Nature.

Synthetic vitamins are produced in a lab and come in an isolated form. In other words, they’re not “contaminated” with the co-factors that work with vitamins in Nature.

But the biggest concern is that the results don’t agree with other studies. Especially with trials where use and results are controlled and verified in person… rather than by mail.

Take, for example, a recent study form Britain’s University of Bath.

In this study of 100 men, taking a multivitamin had a clear effect on risk factors for heart trouble. In just 12 weeks, men taking a multivitamin saw a significant drop in levels of two risk factors – C-reactive protein (CRP) and homocysteine.2

Women taking a high-potency multivitamin also had success in a carefully controlled Chinese study. After 26 weeks, the women CRP levels and blood pressure dropped measurably.

A large 10-year Swedish study, found women taking a multivitamin had a 25% lower risk of heart trouble than those who didn’t.4

And, finally, another large study out of Washington had similar results. This study followed more than 77,000 adults. The researchers found people who took a multivitamin for 10 years were 16% less likely to die from heart trouble.5

So should you throw out your multivitamin? I don’t think so. The new study only shows that one particular vitamin product may not offer heat-health benefits. But as you can see, it’s hardly the last word on the subject.

Yours in good health,

Best Life Herbals Wellness Team

1 Sesso, H.D., et al, “Multivitamins in the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Men: The Physicians’ Health Study II Randomized Controlled Trial,” JAMA. 2012; 308(17): 1751-1760.

2 Earnst, C.P., et al, “Complementary effects of multivitamin and omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on indices of cardiovascular health in individuals with elevated homocysteine,” Int J Vitam Nutr Res. Feb 2012; 82(1): 41-52.

3 Wang, C., et al, “Effects of supplementation with multivitamin and mineral on blood pressure and C-reactive protein in obese Chinese women with increased cardiovascular disease risk,” Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2009; 18(1): 121-130.

4 Rautiainen, S., et al, “Multivitamin use and the risk of myocardial infarction: a population-based cohort of Swedish women,” Am J Clin Nutr. Nov 2010; 92(5): 1251-1256.

5 Pocobelli, G., et al “Use of supplements of multivitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin E in relation to mortality,” Am J Epidemiol. Aug 15, 2009; 170(4): 472-483.

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