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Multivitamins May Prevent Heart Attacks

Multivitamins May Prevent Heart Attacks                           [print_link]

Study after study has shown us that fatty fish, nuts and oat bran are all heart protective foods. We know that a diet that contains about 5 servings a day of fruit and vegetables combined with about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise will not only prevent heart attacks but may even reverse many heart conditions. The newest tool in the arsenal of heart attack prevention may be daily multivitamins.

According to a new study just published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who took a one-a-day supplement were 40 per cent less likely to suffer heart attacks than their peers who did not take multivitamins.

This study has been done before with inconclusive results primarily because women who take multivitamins usually take other supplements, eat healthier and exercise daily. In other words, the more pro-active you are about your health, the more likely you are taking some form of multivitamins.  If you are not health conscious and do not exercise you are also more likely to not be taking a multivitamin. In other words, we always thought it was just a lifestyle choice.

The continuing Nurses’ Health Study reported that regular multivitamin use was linked with a 24 per cent lower risk of heart disease. In a study of more than one million healthy U.S. adults, multivitamins were associated with a 25 per cent lower risk of dying from heart disease.

Although these figures were gathered from statistical analysis, when different researchers performed randomized controlled studies in which one group would take the multivitamins and the other did not, they could not achieve the same statistical result.

The new study included 33,933 Swedish women aged 49 to 83 years, the vast majority (93 per cent) having no history of heart disease. After 10 years of follow up, 1201 women had suffered a heart attack.

Among women who were free of heart disease upon enrolling in the study, taking a multivitamin reduced the risk of heart attack by 27 per cent. The protective effect was even stronger among women who used multivitamins for at least 5 years. Compared with women who did not take supplements, those who took multivitamins for 5 years or longer were 40 per cent less likely to have a heart attack.

Once again researchers had to look carefully at the data to see if there were any other factors such as body weight, physical activity, smoking and other heart attack risk factors. This time the results were unchanged. The multivitamin regimen was confirmed to prevent heart attacks in healthy people and in people with risk factors for heart disease.

One reason that this study was more conclusive than previous randomized studies was the fact that the potency of the multivitamins was much higher and closer to the 100 per cent requirement for all the vitamins and minerals needed by the body. The fact is that multivitamins today are a lot better than they have ever been in the past and the formulas are constantly changing as we discover specific nutrients lacking in our diets.

Another reason the randomized controlled studies were inconclusive was because many of the subjects in the study already had existing heart conditions, whereas the new study only used healthy people, the majority of which had healthy hearts. While multivitamins may help keep blood vessels healthy, they may not prevent a heart attack once heart disease has developed.

There are many ways in which multivitamins may defend against heart disease. They contain antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and selenium, all of which could lessen the damage to your arteries caused by free radicals. Once you combine your antioxidants from your multiple vitamin along with the natural antioxidants found in your fruits you have a winning combination.

Human beings depend on the oxygen in our atmosphere and if we interrupt that flow for as much as 20 minutes we could die. Free radicals are a natural result of the oxidation process of breathing. People who exercise actually breath in more oxygen, produce more free radicals and need more antioxidants. We also get free radicals from ultra violet light, cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption. Whether you are a healthy runner or a couch potato smoker, we all need antioxidants.

The free radicals cause oxidative damage to the arteries which are repaired by cholesterol. LDL (so-called bad cholesterol) repairs the damage by covering the area with its thick gooey consistency. The excess LDL produced is dissolved in your HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) and washed out of your system. The less oxidative damage you have, the less cholesterol is needed to be produced by your liver. Untreated oxidative damage can lead to a buildup of LDL that can become so thick as to cause the arterial wall to collapse resulting in a heart attack.

Multivitamins also contain all of the B vitamins, folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 which have shown to lower blood homocysteine, an amino acid produced by the body during normal metabolism. High homocysteine is thought to damage artery walls and increase the risk of heart disease. B6, B12 and folic acid convert the homocysteine to methionine keeping the levels of homocysteine low and harmless.

A good multivitamin also contains minerals such as magnesium. Most Canadians do not get enough of this mineral in our diet which is very important in preventing diabetes (a major risk factor for heart disease). Magnesium also reduces inflammation and helps promote normal blood pressure.

Now that the value of multivitamins has been established, the next decision is which multivitamin is the best for you. Most people want a vitamin they only have to take once a day. However, when you take a multivitamin 3 times day just like your meals you get a very good result. Progressive is the most popular brand in this category. Long lasting one-day-multiples include Super-One-A Day by Quest which is a time release formula but it is also an old formula that has not changed in 20 years. Platinum make a multiple that is terribly expensive because the vitamins are dissolved in oil for a long lasting effect. You can buy the same thing from Now which are liquid gels and they are about 1/3 the price. Sisu make a multivitamin with all the new and latest ingredients such as lutein, boron and vitamin K. Naka make a very complete liquid vitamin for men or women which costs about $30 monthly. The most complete multivitamin is Greens+ Multi which you only have to take once a day. After that the most complete is Forward Plus by Dr.Whitaker but you have to take a package of 6 capsules twice a day. Multivitamins labeled for people over 50 are simply iron-free and multivitamins for women have a little bit more calcium, magnesium and iron than those for men.

It is always wise to consult your health professional rather than just pick up a random bottle from the shelf. In any case you should be taking a multivitamin in order to prevent any possibility of having a heart attack.

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