Women who take multivitamins may be doing good for their hearts in the long run, a large study from Sweden suggests.
The study’s findings, published in the September issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, indicated that taking multivitamins was associated with a cardioprotective (heart protective) benefit among women without cardiovascular disease.
Additionally, the link to cardiovascular health was stronger among women who used multivitamins for five years or longer.
But the study only found a weak association of cardiovascular health and multivitamin use among women with cardiovascular disease.
This observational study does not reflect cause and effect, but simply tracked a correlation in this population. The results do not resolve whether or not multivitamins are indeed heart protective.
The study followed a population-based sample group of 31,671 women with no history of cardiovascular disease and 2,262 women with a history of cardiovascular disease for just over 10 years.
The authors of the study concluded that use of multivitamins was inversely associated with poor cardiovascular health, “especially long-term use among women without cardiovascular disease.”
They point out that they could not adjust for several possible confounders, including the possibility that “women who use dietary supplements are more health conscious and have other healthy behaviors.”
“However,” they write, “when adjusted for several potential confounders [perplexing variables] such as diet, physical activity, and educational level, the results remain unchanged.”
The authors concluded, “Further prospective studies with detailed information on the content of preparations and the duration of use are needed to confirm or refute our findings.”
Multivitamin and mineral supplementation has ballooned in the developed world – with more than half of the population in the U.S. taking them, especially older adults.
Previous studies have also found positive associations between multivitamin/mineral supplements – as well as individual antioxidant vitamins, B vitamins and vitamin D – and long-term cardiovascular health.
Source: Rautiainen S, Akesson A, Levitan EB, Morgenstern R, Mittleman MA, Wolk A. Multivitamin use and the risk of myocardial infarction: a population-based cohort of Swedish women. Am J Clin Nutr 2010.