Antioxidants including amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin C are abundant in heart-healthy diets, but the benefits of these micronutrients have long been debated. Now, a new meta-analysis that was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology helps to clear things up.
Researchers carried out an in-depth analysis of the data obtained from 884 previously published studies on the subject of micronutrients that were taken in the form of dietary supplements. They found a number of micronutrients that do lower the risk of heart disease, as well as others that don’t help or even hurt. A total of almost 883,000 patients participated in the trials.
According to principal investigator Simin Liu, “for the first time, we developed a comprehensive, evidence-based integrative map to characterize and quantify micronutrient supplements’ potential effects on cardiometabolic outcomes.”
The findings show “the importance of micronutrient diversity and the balance of health benefits and risks.”
According to him, the results might serve as the foundation for future clinical studies that examine certain micronutrient combinations and their effects on cardiovascular health.
Supplementing with antioxidants has long been recognized to benefit heart health. These nutrients help lower oxidative stress, a recognized factor in many cardiovascular disorders. Foods that are naturally high in antioxidants are a part of heart-healthy diets like the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH). However, research on antioxidant supplements have had mixed outcomes, which is one of the reasons why this strategy hasn’t yet been extensively used in preventive cardiology.
“Research on micronutrient supplementation has mainly focused on the health effects of a single or a few vitamins and minerals,” adds Liu. “We decided to take a comprehensive and systematic approach to evaluate all the publicly available and accessible studies reporting all micronutrients, including phytochemicals and antioxidant supplements and their effects on cardiovascular risk factors as well as multiple cardiovascular diseases.”
The researchers analyzed data from 27 different kinds of randomized, controlled intervention studies to determine which antioxidant supplements are the most effective. They found strong evidence that many of them were good for the heart. These included coenzyme Q10, an antioxidant sometimes sold as CoQ10, which reduced all-cause mortality, folic acid, which cut stroke risk, and omega-3 fatty acids, which decreased mortality from cardiovascular disease. Omega-6 fatty acid, L-arginine, L-citrulline, Vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, alpha-lipoic acid, melatonin, catechin, curcumin, flavanol, genistein, and quercetin were also shown to reduce cardiovascular risk.
There were certain supplements that did more harm than good. Vitamins C, E, and selenium had no impact on the long-term outcomes of cardiovascular disease or the risk of type-2 diabetes. Additionally, beta-carotene supplementation increased mortality from all causes.
The researchers claim that the results highlight the need for more individualized, precision-based dietary therapies that include certain combinations of advantageous supplements. To evaluate the long-term effects of certain micronutrients on health, further research is required, especially large, high-quality interventional studies.
“Identifying the optimal mixture of micronutrients is important, as not all are beneficial, and some may even have harmful effects,” Liu adds.
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