Study finds multivitamins not helpful for heart health

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NEW YORK (CBS) Is taking a multivitamin a waste of time? A new report published through the American Heart Association finds multivitamins do not help prevent heart attacks, strokes or cardiovascular death.

One in three Americans take multi-vitamins and minerals, spending an estimated $21-billion dollars on supplements every year. But a new analysis suggests, when it comes to heart health, multivitamins and minerals are not worth it.

Research published in an American Heart Association journal looked at 18 previous studies on multivitamins that tracked more than 2 million people for an average of 12 years. They found multivitamins do not prevent heart attacks, strokes or cardiovascular death.

"Americans who are taking these supplements, presumably because they're concerned about their health, would be better served by spending their money on good nutrition in the form of a healthy diet," said Dr. Erin Michos, a Cardiologist at Johns Hopkins University.

Researchers say the best multivitamins and minerals come from the produce aisle. Fruits and vegetables already have a proven track record in lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Supplements are also not FDA approved for safety or effectiveness.

"People shouldn't be under the misconception that just because you can get these over the counter that they're safe. Each year, an estimated 23,000 individuals are seen in emergency departments every year due to adverse effects from different supplements," Dr. Michos said.

But the Council on Responsible Nutrition, a supplement trade group, says multivitamins fill nutrient gaps in our less-than-perfect diets and are not intended to serve as magic bullets. The group points out multivitamins help low income Americans combat insufficient nutrient levels for less than a dime a day.