Dietary Supplements Offer Limited Benefits, May Even Increase Risk Of Heart Diseases

Henrietta Strickland
July 11, 2019

"This study can help those who create professional cardiovascular and dietary guidelines modify their recommendations, provide the evidence base for clinicians to discuss dietary supplements with their patients, and guide new studies to fulfill the evidence gap". A new study has now indicated that these supplements may do more harm than good.

The researchers analyzed data from 277 randomized controlled trials to determine the effects of 18 nutritional supplements and 8 diets on the health of almost 1 million adults.

Current US dietary guidelines recommend several healthy eating patterns, including Mediterranean and vegetarian diets, but they do not recommend routine supplement use to reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease or other chronic diseases.

The researchers found some evidence that reduced salt intake was protective for all-cause mortality in participants with normal blood pressure and that omega-3, long-chain fatty acids were protective for myocardial infarction and coronary heart disease. Dr. Khan added that there were a few caveats to these beneficial supplements: The benefit of folate supplements was largely derived from an analysis of a Chinese population, a group that in general does not consume a folate-rich diet. "This is something that can be backed up with logic because there is a sufficient amount of data, in various studies, that shows low salt intake basically improves hypertension, which directly influences cardiovascular outcome", lead author Safi Khan said in a statement. "Combined calcium plus vitamin D might increase risk for stroke". "This initiates atherosclerosis and blood clot formation and consequently causes stroke". The study says that typically dietary supplements offer no health benefits for heart, and could be even harmful, including increasing death risk.

"This research further exhibits that regardless of extensive sales and use of different dietary supplements, there's a lack of scientific proof supporting the usage of many supplements", mentioned Dr. Bruce Y. Lee, an associate professor of worldwide health on the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who was not concerned within the analysis. A similar conclusion applies to low-fat diets. "Pooling results from all the trials did not support cardiovascular risk".

The findings were unsurprising, said Susan Jebb, a professor of diet and population health at the University of Oxford.

The research authors and an accompanying editorial published in Annals of Internal Medicine from Scripps Research Translational Institute admit that the findings are limited by the quality of the evidence. Because these records depend on patient memories and estimates, they can often be inaccurate. "There are so many factors that affect mortality", he said, "and it is hard to account for all of these in randomized controlled trials and population cohort studies".

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