Many Common Vitamins Don’t Improve Health

vitamins health

A Canadian study has found that some of the most commonly taken vitamin and mineral supplements, including multi-vitamins and vitamin C, don't actually provide any health benefits.

The study found that there was no advantage or increased risk in relation to heart-related conditions, stroke or premature death by taking these vitamin supplements – with the one exception potentially being folic acid.

Dietary supplements

Researchers from the University of Toronto looked at data and trials from between 2012 and 2017 to analyse the link between dietary supplements and heart-related conditions (cardiovascular disease) and risk of death. 

They analysed 179 different studies, involving a range of commonly taken vitamin and mineral supplements, including vitamin A, vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B9, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium and selenium. They also looked at multi-vitamins and antioxidants.

Folic acid

The results, which were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that none of the supplements analysed had a significant effect on the level of risk of the person taking them developing cardiovascular disease or dying from any cause. 

The only supplement that may make a difference was found to be folic acid,which was shown to reduce the risk of stroke by up to 20%, and the risk of cardiovascular disease by 17%. However, these results were only based on a single Chinese study, rather than being a trend seen across multiple studies.

No consistent benefit

In the study, the researchers concluded that “In general, the data on the popular supplements (multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin C) show no consistent benefit for the prevention of CVD [cardiovascular disease], MI [myocardial infarction – heart attack], or stroke, nor was there a benefit for all-cause mortality to support their continued use.”

Vitamin deficiency

There are of course other benefits, aside from preventing heart disease, from taking dietary supplements, especially in people who are deficient in certain vitamins or minerals.

The NHS recommends that people in the UK should take vitamin D supplements, particularly in autumn and winter when they may not get enough from the sun. Pregnant women, and those wanting to get pregnant, are advised to take a folic acid supplement. 

Children aged between six months and five years are advised to take vitamins A, C and D as a precaution, as they may not get enough of these vitamins, especially those not eating a varied diet.


This article was written by a third party source and does not reflect the views or opinions of Ramsay Health Care unless explicitly stated.

Additional comments on the page from individual Consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other Consultants or Ramsay Health Care.

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