Many of us take over-the-counter supplements in the hopes that they will somehow help use live longer, or counteract some of our less than healthy lifestyle habits.  These measures can include vitamins and modifications to our diets, but how much do we know about the effectiveness of our efforts?

            Sorry to say, but a recent study which reviewed a large volume of data that included everything from vitamin supplements to dietary alterations, has revealed most of these measures have not been shown to prevent mortality or cardiovascular disease.

            In brief, 24 nutritional supplements and dietary interventions were evaluated.  This article will not let me list all of the interventions, but here are some highlights: reduced salt intake was protective for all-cause mortality; omega 3’s were protective for MI’s and coronary heart disease; folic acid was protective for stroke, but other vitamins, as well as the Mediterranean diet and reduced fat intake, did not have a significant effect on cardiovascular disease. Most striking to me, was the finding that the combination of calcium and vitamin D resulted in an increased risk of stroke.

            Let me offer at least one insight to this data.  The American diet is heavily fortified with vitamins and minerals.  Look at any common food label and you will see we are getting plenty of vitamins.  Perhaps the benefit of all of these dietary supplements would be better seen in places where the population is poorly nourished and not getting an adequate supply.