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Do the supplements work? | Life expectancy and nutritional supplements



Close-up of capsules on table

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  • A new analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine out of 277 clinical trials involving 24 supplements found that most do nothing to protect you from heart attacks or strokes, nor help you live longer.
  • Some evidence was favorable for omega-3 fatty acids, a diet low in salt and folate.
  • According to one study, a combination of vitamin D and calcium can be risky.

    Many supplements like multivitamins, calcium, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids are used daily for the heart health of millions of Americans, many of whom also try to eat well by following diets like diet Mediterranean.

    A recent study suggests that the problem is that there is not much evidence that it helps your ticker in the long run, at least not enough so that it keeps pumping longer than it would have done without these strategies.

    New research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reviewed data from 277 clinical trials of 24 supplements (vitamins, minerals, omega-3s and antioxidants) and eight diets, including those from the Mediterranean, containing less salt and less fat. In total, nearly one million participants were included.

    Research has focused on randomized controlled trials – which means that participants are assigned to specific interventions for a period of time – instead of observational studies or methods that may ask them to do so. Estimate the use of multivitamins over a few decades, for example.

    This methodology is important, said Safi Khan, MD, author of the West Virginia University study, Runner's World. Nutrition studies based solely on participants' memories are often criticized for their lack of rigor, but these types of tests are considered the "standard of reference" for research, although many also use newspapers. food. This is because they test certain variables directly rather than relying on associations between different factors.

    The researchers found that some tactics offered a modest benefit: reduced salt intake, omega-3 supplements, and folic acid intake, reducing the risk of heart attacks and accidents cerebrovascular, but not enough so that everyone can zoom in.

    For example, interventions on omega-3s have shown that the supplement reduces the risk of heart attack by 8% and the risk of heart disease by 7%. Tests on folate revealed a 20% lower stroke risk, and low salt intake was associated with a 10% reduction in the number of premature deaths – but that's not the case. was the only supplement or proven diet plan associated with early departure.

    The rest of the supplements did not even show this slight increase. Vitamins such as A and B6, as well as multivitamins, antioxidants and iron had no effect on early mortality or the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Dietary interventions such as fat reduction had the same result, as did the Mediterranean diet, surprisingly.

    A combination, calcium taken with vitamin D, has even been shown to be potentially harmful, as it can increase blood clotting and the risk of hardening of the arteries – both results that increase the risk of developing the disease. stroke, said Khan. In fact, the analysis concluded that the combination was linked to a 17% increase in the number of strokes.

    In addition, there is even a warning about folate because these data come from a study in China, where deficiencies in folic acid are common.

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    This is in fact consistent with Khan's advice on supplements, that they may have some benefits if you are actually defective in the nutrient. But considering them as some kind of heart health insurance policy is not profitable.

    "It is possible that you will take a positive effect if you take these supplements to improve your health," he said. "But what we are trying to show here is that the evidence on this is very weak."

    Khan and his fellow researchers are not the first to suggest that supplements could be expensive placebos. A 2013 report by the US Task Force on Preventive Services found that "limited evidence" supports claims that vitamin and mineral supplementation may help prevent cancer or cardiovascular disease.

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    But what about this Mediterranean diet so appreciated? In this case, some of the clinical trials revealed modest improvements in cardiovascular risk, but Khan said that the evidence is simply not convincing enough to make a general recommendation stating that it is so that everyone should eat.

    "The fact is that there is no single magic scheme that is good for everyone, the evidence does not confirm it," he said. "Maybe we will see this after many other tests, but for the moment, the point is to focus on what we know to be good, like eating more vegetables and combining that with the same". exercise and do not smoke. "


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