Archive for September 20th, 2007

The Role of Vitamins and Antioxidants In Preventing Heart Disease

September 20, 2007

2334916729.jpgJust recently, I came across a patient who brought all his supplements mainly vitamins apparently given by his nephew residing in the US.  He is one of the many patients who complains of taking too many medications for his diabetes… but unmindful of the other extra drugs in a form of vitamins.

  It is always true that Diabetics will require multiple drug therapy due to concomitant illneses associated with it like Hypertension and High Cholesterol.  These supplements always include Vitamin C, E or B because apparently it is their belief that these supplements boost their immune system… and can protect them from getting heart disease or cancer.  But what is the truth to this claim or is it worth taking these vitamins?

We know from multiple studies that these vitamins as antioxidants just dont work as claimed.  However marketing strategies of suplement makers have made convincing claims that they do have an impact but proven otherwise.

Recently, a study looking at the role of these vitamins in preventing heart disease was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine and reexamined this issue:


Methods  The Women’s Antioxidant Cardiovascular Study tested the effects of ascorbic acid (500 mg/d), vitamin E (600 IU every other day), and beta carotene (50 mg every other day) on the combined outcome of myocardial infarction, stroke, coronary revascularization, or CVD death among 8171 female health professionals at increased risk in a 2 x 2 x 2 factorial design.

Participants were 40 years or older with a history of CVD or 3 or more CVD risk factors and were followed up for a mean duration of 9.4 years, from 1995-1996 to 2005.

Results and Conclusion:  There were no overall effects of ascorbic acid, vitamin E, or beta carotene on cardiovascular events among women at high risk for CVD.


The above findings are consistent with other trials looking at this matter against a cardioprotective effect from any of the these vitamins.  What is important however is the absence of any harm form taking these pills in this study in contrast to earlier studies that showed the intake of these antioxidants actually increase ones mortality.

Lastly… it is also important to emphasize that the vitamins were talking about here are the pills or the vitamin supplements and NOT the dietary sources of these vitamins which have been shown to be protective aginst heart disease in several observational studies.

Be Healthy…Through Proper Lifestyle NOT PILLS!