Can taking vitamins help prevent heart disease or a heart attack?
Answers from Rekha Mankad, M.D.
It's not yet clear if taking vitamins can reduce your risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack. But, what is known is that no vitamin can prevent the development of heart disease if you don't control your other risk factors, such as a poor diet, smoking, high cholesterol and diabetes.
Previous studies suggested that certain vitamins, such as vitamins C and E, may reduce your heart disease risk, but larger clinical trials haven't shown a benefit. However, one recent study indicated that vitamin E, when taken alone, may help prevent a heart attack. But, the American Heart Association doesn't recommend taking either vitamin as a way to prevent heart disease.
There's also some evidence of a relationship between low blood levels of vitamin D and heart disease, but more research is needed. Talk to your doctor if you're concerned about your vitamin D level.
Most people who are generally healthy and get the nutrients they need from their diets don't need to take a daily vitamin. Even a daily multivitamin doesn't seem to help prevent heart disease. If you're concerned about your nutrition, talk with your doctor about whether taking a daily vitamin might be a good option for you.
Or, better yet, add nutrient-rich foods — such as vegetables and fruits, vegetable or seed oils, whole grains, and at least two servings of fish weekly — to your diet to help protect your heart.
Feb. 18, 2017
See more Expert Answers
- Vitamin and mineral supplements. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Vitamin-and-Mineral-Supplements_UCM_306033_Article.jsp#.WDpy-X0mGLU. Accessed Nov. 27, 2016.
- Tangney CC, et al. Nutritional antioxidants in coronary heart disease. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 26, 2016.
- Loffredo L, et al. Supplementation with vitamin E alone is associated with reduced myocardial infarction: A meta-analysis. Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases. 2015;25:354.
- Pilz S, et al. Vitamin D and cardiovascular disease prevention. Nature Reviews. Cardiology. 2016;13:405.
- Heart attack. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed Nov. 26, 2016.
- Neufcourt L, et al. Prospective association between the dietary inflammatory index and cardiovascular diseases in the SUppl_ementation en VItamines et Min_eraux AntioXydants (SU.VI.MAX) cohort. Journal of the American Heart Association. 2016;5:1.