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Multivitamin Use Helps Reduce Heart Attack Risk in Women

By Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS, October 8, 2010, abstracted from “Multivitamin use and the risk of myocardial infarction: a population-based cohort of Swedish women” printed online September 22, 2010 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that 1 in 3 Americans do some form of multivitamin supplementation (1). Research has found that mulitivitamin use has produced health benefits that include newborn health (2), lung health (3), and cell health during strenuous exercise (4). However, NIH has concluded that “”more rigorous scientific research is needed before strong recommendations can be made regarding multivitamin use to prevent chronic diseases” (1).

Now a new study (5) has found that multivitamin use may help reduce heart attack risk. The American Heart Association estimates there were 1.3 million heart attacks in 2005, causing 1 out of every 5 deaths among Americans (445,687 deaths) (6) and costing our healthcare system nearly $152 billion each year (7).

In the study, researchers analyzed data from the Swedish Mammography Cohort (8), in which 31,671 women with no history of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and 2,262 women with a history of CVD ranging in age from 49 to 83 years completed a self-administered questionnaire regarding dietary supplement use, diet, and lifestyle factors. Using the questionnaire, the researchers estimated the average multivitamin to contain:

- Vitamin A (0.9 milligrams)
- Vitamin C (60 milligrams)
- Vitamin D (5 micrograms = 200 IU)
- Vitamin E (9 mg = 13.5 IU))
- Thiamine (1.2 mg)
- Riboflavin (1.4 mg)
- Vitamin B -6 (1.8 mg)
- Vitamin B-12 (3 micrograms)
- Folic acid (400 micrograms)

The researchers followed the women for an average of 10.2 years and found that, compared to those not taking any multivitamin supplement, women without cardiovascular disease taking multivitamins regularly had a 27% reduced risk of heart attack. When patients compared multivitamin use with other supplements, there was a 30% reduced risk. For supplement use other than multivitamins, there was a 7% reduced risk (the researchers cited ginseng and CoQ10 as part of “other supplements” but did not give any specific dosages).

Even more encouraging was the long-term benefit of multivitamin use on heart attack risk, with five years of supplementation producing a 41% reduced risk. In women already diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, use of multivitamins alone or together with other supplements was not associated with a reduced risk of heart attack.

When looking at past research, one study found that multivitamin use reduced heart risk by 34% (9), another study showed a 51% reduced risk (10), and another showed a 24% reduced risk (11). The researchers went on to conclude “The use of multivitamins was inversely associated with heart attack, especially in long-term use among women with no cardiovascular disease.”

Greg Arnold is a Chiropractic Physician practicing in Danville, CA. You can contact Dr. Arnold directly by emailing him at PitchingDoc@msn.com or visiting his web site at www.PitchingDoc.com


1. “Results of Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements and Chronic Disease Prevention NIH State-of-the-Science Conference (May 15-17, 2006)”  http://ods.od.nih.gov/News/Results_of_MultivitaminMineral_Supplements_2006.aspx
2. Fawzi WW. Vitamins and Perinatal Outcomes among HIV-Negative Women in Tanzania. N Engl J Med 2007; 356:1423-1431, Apr 5, 2007
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6. “Heart Attack and Angina Statistics” posted on www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4591
7. American Heart Association Update. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2007 Update. Circulation. 2007;115:e69-e171
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11. Rimm EB, Willett WC, Hu FB, et al. Folate and vitamin B6 from diet and supplements in relation to risk of coronary heart disease among women. JAMA 1998;279:359–64.