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Studies: Multivitamins might not protect cognition, heart health

Wednesday December 18, 2013
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A pair of studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine called into question the use of multivitamins and minerals to prevent certain health problems.

In a substudy of the Physicians’ Health Study II — a large, randomized, placebo-controlled trial — long-term use of a daily multivitamin did nothing to slow cognitive decline among men 65 and older.

Multivitamins are the most commonly used dietary supplements in the U.S., according to background information for the study. A typical daily multivitamin contains a combination of nutrients, such as vitamins A, C, E, beta-carotene and B vitamins, thought to have properties that could help prevent cognitive decline. However, their benefit in preventing age-related cognitive decline is unclear.

Researchers with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston assigned 5,947 male physicians ages 65 and older to take either a daily multivitamin or placebo for 12 years. After an initial cognitive assessment, the men were tested for cognitive function and verbal memory via telephone interview three additional times at approximately two, six and 10 years.

The researchers found no difference in cognitive function between the multivitamin and placebo groups, and concluded there is no benefit in taking a daily multivitamin to prevent cognitive decline.

Study abstract: http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1789250

Heart protection

Taking high doses of multivitamins and minerals does not protect against secondary cardiovascular events in stable patients receiving appropriate care after myocardial infarction, according to a study.

Researchers randomly assigned 1,708 patients ages 50 years or older who had MI at least six weeks earlier and had serum creatinine levels of 176.8 µmol/L (2.0 mg/dL) or less to take either an oral 28-component high-dose multivitamin and multimineral mixture or placebo. Patient records at the 134 sites in the U.S. and Canada were reviewed to determine time to death, recurrent MI, stroke, coronary revascularization or hospitalization for angina.

While the multivitamin and mineral regimen was not harmful, it did not seem to reduce cardiovascular events in patients receiving appropriate, evidence-based medical therapy following MI, the researchers reported.

However, they noted, “this conclusion is tempered by the non-adherence rate” among patients in the study.

Study abstract: http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1789248


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