Which dietary supplements protect health?
Many people take so-called nutritional supplements to avoid possible deficiency symptoms and to improve their health. However, researchers have now found that many of the vitamin and mineral supplements do not really promote health. However, there is at least one exception to dietary supplements that has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke.
If you are one of those people who take supplements frequently and swear by their positive effects, the new findings may surprise you. In their current study, the University of Toronto scientists found that dietary supplements mostly do not have a positive effect on health. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Journal of the American College of Cardiology".
Dietary supplements are common
In general, food supplements are taken to avoid the appearance of deficiency symptoms. Over the past few years, however, nutritional supplements have been used more and more to improve longevity or simply to improve overall health. A survey also analyzed in the current study found that approximately every second person takes any dietary supplements today.
Folic acid protects against heart diseases and strokes
Dietary supplements often do not have the desired effect, and there are even some of these that can increase the risk of premature death, experts say. However, there is one exception: folic acid supplements actually reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke.
What dietary supplements have been examined?
For the current study, the scientists analyzed the results of various studies over a period of five years. These had looked at the most commonly used nutritional supplements, including vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 (niacin), B6, B9 (folic acid), C, D and E, the doctors explain.
Many supplements do not protect against cardiovascular diseases
When it comes to avoiding cardiovascular diseases, a heart attack, stroke or premature death, multivitamins, vitamins C and D and calcium have no beneficial effects. However, there was no increased risk from the intake, the experts report.
No benefits from taking many supplements
It was surprising that only so few positive effects could be found by taking the most commonly used food supplements, explains the study author Dr. David Jenkins from the University of Toronto. The review of the different study results showed that taking multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium or vitamin C does not harm those affected, but there are no obvious benefits from taking it, the expert adds.
Follow a healthy diet
In the absence of significant positive data, it is most beneficial to rely on a healthy diet to eat vitamins and minerals, doctors say. An exception is the intake of folic acid, which reduces the risk of stroke or heart disease.
Taking supplements can even be harmful
Experts advise people with specific nutritional deficiencies to take supplements only after professional advice. Most people get the vitamins and minerals they need by simply eating a healthy, balanced diet. Ingestion of dietary supplements in excessive doses can even be harmful to human health, the researchers warn. (as)