Rapid Response

Antioxidant Vitamins—No Benefit for CVD Prevention

Authors: Vera Bittner, MD, MSPH


Antioxidant Vitamins—No Benefit for CVD Prevention

A 2005 report from the Institute of Medicine estimated that total sales of supplements in the United States amounted to over $18 billion annually, a substantial proportion of which is spent on vitamins.1 Many individuals purchase vitamin supplements for the explicit purpose of preventing cardiovascular events and prolonging life. It has been suggested that such use may detract from adopting healthy lifestyles and from use of medications with documented cardiovascular benefits.2 Although diets rich in fruits and vegetables (and thus antioxidants and vitamins) are associated with a reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease,3 trials of antioxidant vitamin supplements have been disappointing with few exceptions4–11 and a meta-analysis of mortality suggested harm with vitamin E and beta carotene supplementation.10

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