The majority of vitamins and other nutritional supplements don’t increase lifespan or protect one’s heart health, a huge analysis out of Johns Hopkins University has found. There were two exceptions to the findings related to folic acid and omega-3 fatty acid supplements, however, while one particularly popular vitamin and mineral combination was linked to an increase in stroke risk.
More than half of Americans take at least one vitamin or nutritional supplement every day, according to the study, amounting to around $31 billion spent annually on these over-the-counter supplements. Most of that money may be going to waste, the researchers concluded after conducting a ‘massive’ analysis of 277 existing clinical trials.
The good news is that taking most of these supplements weren’t linked to any sort of health harm. The downside is that most of these supplements also weren’t linked to any sort of heart health protection or increase in lifespan, potentially making them a big waste of money.
There were two potential exceptions to the findings: folic acid and omega-3 fatty acid supplements. The researchers found an association between omega-3 fatty acids and eating a low-salt diet, and also ‘possibly’ found health benefits associated with taking folic acid. On the other hand, taking a vitamin D and calcium combo supplement was associated with a slight uptick in stroke risk.
A growing number of studies have found that most adults do no need to take vitamins or other dietary supplements — in fact, some past researchers has found an association between certain supplements and decreased lifespan. Though that remains in contention, experts largely recommend that nutrients come from healthy food, not pills and tablets, in order to reap the benefits.
The Johns Hopkins University study looked at the potential effects of a huge number of popular vitamins, minerals, and other supplements on multiple health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, and heart attack. Collectively, the clinical trials analyzed had been comprised of more than 992,000 people. In addition to supplements, the study also looked at different diets, including the Mediterranean diet, modified and lower saturated fat diets, the ALA diet, higher omega-6 fatty acid diets, and a low sodium diet.
Whereas the calcium and vitamin D combo supplement was found to increase stroke risk by 17-percent, folic acid was found to decrease that risk by 20-percent. A low sodium diet lowered death risk by 10-percent and taking fish oil supplements reduced heart attack and disease risk by 7-percent.