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Surprise! Most of Your Vitamin Supplements Do Nothing

In fact, B3 vitamins are slightly upping your chance of death.

Julian Morgans

Julian Morgans

Image via Shutterstock

Yep, that’s right. The most common vitamin supplements have been shown to do nothing for reducing cardiovascular disease, stroke, heart attack, or just generally prolonging life.

These results, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, come from a team at St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto. The researchers took a fine-tooth comb to existing reviews and surveys from between 2012 and 2017, looking for health outcomes for people taking vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 (niacin), B6, B9 (folic acid), C, D, and E, as well as carotene, calcium, iron, zinc, selenium, and magnesium.

What they found was that in most cases the supplements caused no harm, but also achieved zero improvement to overall health.

"We were surprised to find so few positive effects of the most common supplements that people consume," Dr. David Jenkins, the lead author of the study, told Business Insider.

However, there were a few surprising benefits from some supplements. People who take folic acid and B vitamins saw a slightly reduced rate of cardiovascular disease and stroke, but only slightly. And then on the flip-side Niacin (a form of vitamin B3) was found to slightly increase the probability of death. Antioxidants in high quantities were also found to be broadly harmful.

In light of these findings, Dr. David Jenkins recommends getting your daily vitamins from fresh fruit and vegetables. “So far, no research on supplements has shown us anything better than healthy servings of less processed plant foods, including vegetables, fruits, and nuts,” he said.

This article originally appeared on VICE Australia.