Vitamins for cardiovascular diseases: is the expense justified?


Center for Integrative Research on Cardiovascular Aging (CIRCA), Aurora University of Wisconsin Medical Group, Aurora Cardiovascular Services, Aurora Sinai/Aurora St. Luke's Medical Centers


Despite the knowledge that a well-balanced diet provides most of the nutritional requirements, the use of supplemental vitamins is widespread among adults in the United States. Evidence from large randomized controlled trials over the last 2 decades does not support vitamin supplementation for the reduction of cardiovascular risk factors or clinical outcomes. Many of the vitamins used in common practice likely are safe when consumed in small doses, but long-term consumption of megadoses is not only expensive but has the potential to cause adverse effects. Therefore, a need exists to revisit this issue, reminding the public and healthcare providers about the data supporting the use of vitamins for cardiovascular disease, and the potential for harm and the expense associated with their unnecessary use. In this review, we highlight the scientific evidence from randomized controlled studies regarding the efficacy and safety of vitamin supplementation for primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular diseases and outcomes. We also draw attention to issues related to widespread and indiscriminate use of vitamin supplements and the need to educate the public to curtail unnecessary consumption and expense by limiting their use based on strong scientific evidence.

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