To Your Health: Multi-Vitamins & Your Heart

Dr. Alan Safdi is a gastroenterologist with a talent for delivering evidence-based medical findings for healthy living in easily digestible sound bytes. Our relationship with Safdi began several years ago when we attended a Wellness Conference at The Peaks Resort & Spa. We next heard him speak again at Telluride First Foundation’s inaugural Integrative Wellness Conference, this year, September 8 – 10, at the Telluride Conference Center in Mountain Village. At the Wellness Summit, the audience got enough of a taste of Safdi’s encyclopedic knowledge of mind-body wellness and preventative medicine to want more.

So here’s more from Dr. Alan Safdi, a regular contributor to Telluride Inside… and Out. This week, the subject is multivitamins and your heart. Do these supplements support heart health?

According to a new analysis by the Physicians Health Study II, with middle–aged and older men, long–term daily multivitamin use does not prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD), regardless of baseline nutritional status.

In this new analysis of over 13,000 physicians published online April 5 in JAMA Cardiology, researchers investigated whether baseline intake of key foods, nutrients, dietary patterns, and dietary supplements modified the long–term effect of multivitamin use on CVD and found “no consistent evidence” of any change. In other words, a multivitamin has no clear effect on CVD risk– regardless of baseline nutritional status.

Fortunately we are not all identical. We have different personalities, traits, and nutritional needs. But the fact is most of our nutritional needs should come from whole foods because we do not know what part of a blueberry or strawberry to put into a vitamin. And we do know from prior studies that whole fruits including strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and plums can lower our risk of cardiovascular disease. And now we know that a multivitamin cannot and should not replace such foods.

Another proven fact is that populations who live the longest enjoy a predominately plant-based diet, regular exercise, strong family, and community ties, etc.

Whether or not to take a multivitamin is an individual decision that should be made in consultation with a health care provider. But first keep in mind the fact that if an individual has a balanced and healthy diet, it is unlikely that a multivitamin will provide much if any additional nutritional benefits. Many feel compelled to take a multivitamin for general health or to prevent specific conditions, but there is as yet no compelling evidence to suggest multivitamins give such positive outcomes. Never count on a vitamin to replace a healthy diet or regular exercise.

Should you take a multivitamin?

That is a most difficult question for any doctor to answer.

I take into account a variety of factors including nutritional status, age, sex, and any specific nutritional deficiencies. I always emphasize that a multivitamin will not replace a healthy diet with good oils, as well as eight servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

Because a multivitamin does not work for cardiovascular prevention does not mean they do not work for other medical conditions. As usual we always need more research. Have that discussion at least annually with your family doctor. Nutritional science changes rapidly.

 

More about Dr. Alan Safdi:

Dr. Alan Safdi
Dr. Alan Safdi

Dr. Alan Safdi is a speaker, contributor, and serves on the advisory board of the Telluride First Foundation.

He is board certified in Internal Medicine and in Gastroenterology and a Fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology. A proven leader in the healthcare arena, Safdi has been featured on the national program “Medical Crossfire” and authored or co-authored numerous medical articles and abstracts. He has been an investigator in over 581 studies and is President of both the Consultants For Clinical Research and the Ohio Gastroenterology and Liver Institute.

Dr. Safdi has been involved in grant-based and clinical research for about 35 years and is passionate about disease prevention and wellness, not just fixing what has gone wrong. He is an international lecturer on the subjects of wellness, nutrition, and gastroenterology.

 

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