According to a 2019 poll by the American Osteopathic Association, 86 percent of Americans take vitamins or dietary supplements on a daily basis. With the COVID pandemic triggering anxiety and more health awareness in people across the U.S., you may have added a few more supplements to your regimen. But if you’re trying to live a longer life or want to avoid a heart attack-related death, a recent Johns Hopkins meta-analysis has some good and bad news. After looking at studies of 16 vitamins, the researchers found that only two supplements actually work to help you live longer and stay healthy. Read on to find out what they are, and if you’re wondering what supplement to avoid, check out This Is the One Vitamin You Should Never Take, Doctors Say.
Taking omega-3 fatty acids supplements and folic acid are the only two supplements linked to living a longer life and improved heart heath, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers say. According to a 2019 analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which looked into 277 clinical trials with 24 various interventions, most supplements have no effect when it comes to improving health in most people.
In a statement, Safi U. Khan, MD, the lead author of the analysis and an assistant professor of medicine at West Virginia University, said the analysis “carries a simple message that although there may be some evidence that a few interventions have an impact on death and cardiovascular health, the vast majority of multivitamins, minerals and different types of diets had no measurable effect on survival or cardiovascular disease risk reduction.”
And for a supplement that can actually do some harm, check out This Supplement Can Cause Cardiac Arrest If You Take Too Much, Doctors Say.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins analyzed data from 25 studies in 25,580 healthy people and noticed that folic acid supplements were connected to a 20 percent decrease of stroke.
Folic acid—a synthetic from of folate, better known as vitamin B9—assists in the production of new red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout your body, notes Medical News Today. In its natural form, folate is also found in whole grains, dark leafy vegetables, peanuts, and beans, among other foods, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. And for more vitamin news you need to know, Don’t Take a Multivitamin If You Haven’t Done This First, Doctors Warn.
According to the Johns Hopkins analysis, the possible impact of omega-3 supplements, a form of unsaturated fatty acid, was evaluated in 41 studies, totaling 134,032 participants. The findings suggest that the fatty acid supplement was connected to an eight percent decrease in heart attack risk. It also saw a seven percent reduction in coronary heart disease.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to minimize inflammation in the body, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. The Mayo Clinic explains that omega-3 fatty acid also has the ability to slightly lower blood pressure, decrease triglycerides, reduce blood clotting, and make heartbeats more regular.
And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
“Multivitamins, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D alone, calcium alone and iron showed no link to increased or decreased risk of death or heart health,” the Johns Hopkins analysis explained.
In fact, the analysis found that taking calcium and vitamin D at the same time increase a person’s risk of stroke by 17 percent.
And for more factors that play into your heart health, check out If You Have This Blood Type, Your Heart Attack Risk Is Higher, Study Says.
Ultimately, the Johns Hopkins researchers remind people to listen to their doctor’s recommendations and try to get nutrients from natural resources. “The panacea or magic bullet that people keep searching for in dietary supplements isn’t there,” senior author Erin D. Michos, MD, associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a statement. “People should focus on getting their nutrients from a heart-healthy diet, because the data increasingly show that the majority of healthy adults don’t need to take supplements.”
And for news on another potentially dangerous pill, check out The FDA Says This Supplement Could Present a “Life-Threatening” Health Risk.