Multivitamin Supplements Shown to Help Prevent Heart Attacks
It has long been known that healthful habits are essential to cardiac
health. Regular exercise, not smoking, and eating a diet rich in fruits,
vegetables, and fiber have all been shown in numerous studies to be
effective means for protecting the heart. Several nutrients have been
identified as critical components of a heart-healthy diet. These include
folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, magnesium, and antioxidants such as
vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium. High intake of folic acid, vitamin B6,
and vitamin B12 can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood, and thereby
lower the risk of heart disease. High dietary and supplemental intake of
antioxidant nutrients have also been found to be protective in some, but
not all, studies. Multivitamin supplements generally contain B-vitamins
(including folic acid), vitamin C, and vitamin E, and many also contain
trace minerals and other nutrients. Three studies, all conducted in the
United States, have examined the effect of multivitamin use on the risk of
heart disease; one showed a protective effect but the others did not.
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The current study was conducted in Sweden. Participants included 1,296 men
and women who had experienced a first heart attack more than one month
previously. They were compared with 1,685 men and women who had never
experienced a heart attack. All of the participants answered a detailed
questionnaire regarding physical activity, diet, smoking, and use of
supplements. The use of multivitamin supplements was associated with a
significant reduction in risk of nonfatal heart attack. Men taking
multivitamin supplements were 22% less likely to experience a nonfatal
heart attack than men who did not. In women, the risk reduction was 33%.
The results of this study suggest that the use of multivitamin supplements
reduces the risk of nonfatal heart attack, adding to the evidence that
multivitamin supplements might prevent heart disease. Controlled trials are
needed to confirm these findings. In contrast to previous studies, the
participants in the current study were drawn from a population known to
consume relatively few fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, dietary
consumption of folic acid is likely to be lower in Sweden than in the
United States, where commonly eaten foods are fortified with this nutrient.
Future studies may determine whether some populations benefit more than
others from multivitamin supplement use.
Healthnotes Newswire (October 9, 2003)-Men and women who take a daily
multivitamin have fewer heart attacks than those who do not, according to a
new study published in the Journal of Nutrition (2003;133:2650-4).
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