Nutritional Supplements Offer No Additional Cardiovascular Protections: Analysis

A new analysis indicates that most nutritional supplements do not provide any additional protections against cardiovascular disease or cardiovascular death.

The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, looked at data from PudMed, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Library,, journal web sites, and reference lists, focusing randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials assessing the effects of nutritional supplements or dietary interventions on outcomes like all-cause mortality, myocardial infarction, stroke, and coronary heart disease.

The analysis included nine systematic reviews and four new randomized clinical trials (277 total trials, 24 interventions, and over 992,000 participants), with a total of 105 meta-analyses generated.

The results suggested moderate-certainty evidence that reduced salt intake decreased the risk for all-cause mortality in patients with normal blood pressure (RR=0.90; 95% CI, 0.85 to 0.95), as well as cardiovascular mortality in patients with hypertension (RR=0.67; 95% CI, 0.46 to 0.99). It also indicated that other nutritional supplements, such as multivitamins, antioxidants, and iron or dietary interventions (reduced fat intake, etc.), did not significantly effect mortality or cardiovascular disease outcomes.

“Reduced salt intake, omega-3 LC-PUFA use, and folate supplementation could reduce risk for some cardiovascular outcomes in adults,” the researchers wrote. “Combined calcium plus vitamin D might increase risk for stroke.”

In an accompanying editorial by Eric J. Topol, MD, of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, CA,  the authors illustrated the current state of research in the are of supplements and their effects on outcomes.

“The use of supplements continues to increase in the United States and worldwide, largely without evidence for their efficacy or safety,” they wrote in the editorial. Nearly 3 in 4 persons in the United States use some form of supplements, so it is no wonder that the supplement market is estimated to reach nearly $300 billion in the next 5 yea,” Topol wrote. “In addition to the unbridled uptake, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lacks regulatory authority over supplements.”



Eric Raible is editor of the Cardiology section of DocWire News and has more than a decade’s worth of experience in covering and publishing in the cardiology space. Eric has previously served as a founding editor of CardioSource WorldNews, and is a former staff writer and editor of Cardiology Today.