In an effort to guard against heart disease, you may consider adding a multivitamin supplement to your menu of fatty fish, nuts and oat bran.
According to new a study published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who took a one-a-day supplement were 40 per cent less likely to suffer a heart attack than their peers who didn’t use multivitamins.
The current study included 33,933 Swedish women aged 49 to 83 years, the vast majority (93 per cent) having no history of heart disease. After 10 years of follow up, 1201 women had suffered a heart attack.
Among women who were free of heart disease upon enrolling in the study, taking a daily multivitamin reduced the risk of heart attack by 27 per cent. The protective effect was stronger among women who used multivitamins for at least five years. Compared with women who didn’t take supplements, those who took multivitamins for five years or longer were 40 per cent less likely to have a heart attack.
There are a number of ways in which a multivitamin may defend against heart disease. Multivitamins contain antioxidant nutrients – vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, selenium – that could lessen artery damage caused by free radicals.
Free radicals are produced naturally when we breathe, but ultraviolet light, cigarette smoking, and the consumption of alcohol are other sources. In high amounts, free radicals contribute to the formation of fatty plaques in the arteries that, if ruptured, can cause a heart attack.
Multivitamins also contain the B vitamins folate, B6 and B12, which have been shown to lower blood homocysteine, an amino acid made by the body during normal metabolism. High homocysteine is thought to damage artery walls and increase the risk of heart disease.