Dietary Supplements: Fact and Fiction
These days, taking a multivitamin is a common strategy in the pursuit of health. There are dozens of dietary supplements ranging from common vitamin C to lesser known supplements like folic acid. But how can you tell which supplements are likely to help and which are a waste of your time? Studies suggest there may not be a simple answer. Learn more about the effects of dietary supplements and multivitamins.
Reputable Supplements for Cardiovascular Health
So which supplements are most likely to improve heart health? Fish oil is a good place to start if you’re looking for a supplement backed by concrete evidence. In one study, over 7,000 patients with a history of heart failure took fish oil alongside the standard prescription regimen for cardiac failure. Hospital admissions related to heart issues were reduced by nine percent in those taking fish oil supplements. While this is not an overwhelming statistic, it certainly demonstrates that fish oil is a worthwhile supplement to consider. Doctors usually agree that sources of nutrition are more beneficial when consumed naturally. But in the case of Omega 3 (the beneficial fatty acid found in fish oil), it’s very difficult to consume enough through diet alone. Fish is expensive and hard to stomach in large quantities. Not to mention, attempting this could even be dangerous due to high levels of mercury and heavy metals in fish. So if you’re pondering fish oil supplements to score some extra health benefits for your heart, the studies largely support it. But don’t forget to reach out to your cardiologist before beginning any kind of self-prescribed dietary change or regiment.
Where the Evidence Wavers
Not all multivitamins and supplements carry the positive evidence we see in fish oil studies. It’s increasingly common to pop multivitamins assuming that your nutritional bases are covered with just one easy pill. These kinds of assumptions can be dangerous, however. Mounting evidence suggests that the restorative powers of vitamins don’t apply to blind doses taken in a capsule. In a study performed as recently as May 2018, researchers were unable to determine any link between multivitamins and improved health. The study was fairly inclusive, focusing on B1, B2, B3 (niacin), B6, B9 (folic acid), C, D and E, carotene, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium and selenium. Folic acid was the only exception, which is effective in preventing birth defects during early pregnancy.
The assumption that multivitamins are a nutritional cure-all is dangerous because it influences many to slack off on their actual diets. Rather than striving to eat fruits and vegetables every day, many people might lean on the dosages they see on the bottle. Experts at Johns Hopkins were again unable to determine that multivitamin use plays any role in reducing the risk of heart disease. More importantly, these were not small studies—one research group included 450,000 people.
Ultimately, there isn’t a shortcut to perfect health. A magic pill won’t bestow you the benefits of a healthy diet and exercise. Your body simply needs to obtain vitamins naturally by digesting fruits, vegetables and nuts in a balanced diet. The good news? They found no evidence that multivitamins in normal doses are dangerous either. At worst, multivitamins are a health neutral (just not neutral for your wallet). If you’re considering fish oil for long term heart health, visit www.cvgcares.com to schedule an appointment with an expert.