If you're someone who won't start your day without your multivitamin tablet and is convinced that daily dose of vitamin C helps to keep you healthy, you may be interested to learn that the most popular vitamin and mineral supplements actually provide no consistent health benefit at all, according to a new study. In fact, there is only one supplement that may prove beneficial in reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke – folic acid.
A study led by researchers at St Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto found that the most common supplements – multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium and vitamin C – showed no advantage or added risk in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke or premature death.
Many vitamins weren't found to be beneficial in preventing illness
"We were surprised to find so few positive effects of the most common supplements that people consume," said Dr David Jenkins, the study's lead author. "Our review found that if you want to use multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium or vitamin C, it does no harm - but there is no apparent advantage either."
However, folic acid – which is often recommended for women trying to conceive and for the first 12 weeks in pregnancy – may have potential to reduce risk of heart disease and stroke, meaning it is something for people to consider taking if they are concerned about developing these conditions.
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Yet despite the potential benefits, the researchers say you are better off getting your vitamins through a balanced and healthy diet, rather than spending a fortune on supplements. "Our review found that if you want to use multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium or vitamin C, it does no harm, but there is no apparent advantage, either," Dr David Jenkins said. "In the absence of significant positive data, apart from folic acid's potential reduction in the risk of stroke or heart disease, it's most beneficial to rely on a healthy diet to get your fill of vitamins and minerals."