Should I take that vitamin on the shelf? How beneficial are they? Not very, according to a new study published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Dr. Laith Alexander with the ABC News Medical Unit reports that researchers from West Virginia University and Johns Hopkins analyzed 277 randomized controlled trials and said they couldn’t find any proof that people will live longer by regularly taking any of the 16 supplements they studied — vitamins A, B2, B6, B complex, C, D, E, multivitamins, iron, selenium, calcium, calcium and vitamin D, folic acid, beta-carotene, antioxidants and omega-3.
“Several vitamins — from vitamin A to vitamin E — had absolutely no effect,” Dr. Safi Khan, lead author of the study, told ABC News. “These supplements don’t seem to improve your overall survival.”
Only omega-3 fish oil was moderately protective against cardiovascular disease, according to the study, but didn’t boost longevity, Dr. Khan said.
One bright spot from the study suggested that folic acid might reduce the risk of stroke. However, the study analysis also said that there was “moderate” evidence that a combination of calcium and vitamin D increased stroke risk.
The study’s authors also didn’t see much benefit on heart health when changing to the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in olive oil with limited amounts of red meat. Dr. Khan called that result “surprising.”
In fact, only one diet that the researchers studied had benefits, according to the report, but only in a specific group of people: reduced salt intake was associated with fewer deaths in people with high blood pressure.
While he recognizes that more studies are needed, Dr. Khan’s advice about vitamin supplements is simple: “Don’t waste your money!”
He notes, “These products are helpful in people with nutrient deficiencies to control symptoms…For everyone else…focus on a healthy lifestyle instead.”