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Dietary supplements associated with heart disease with risks
According to the German Heart Foundation, taking heart supplements for heart patients carries some risks and can even do more harm than good. The foundation's experts explain what to look out for when taking vitamin pills for cardiovascular diseases.
"An uncontrolled intake of dietary supplements can be harmful," emphasizes Professor Dr. med. Hans Hauner from the Scientific Advisory Board of the German Heart Foundation in the current issue of "HERZ heute", the magazine of the heart foundation.
More isn't always better
"Dietary supplements shouldn't just be taken into the blue," warns nutritionist Hauner. Only in the case of a proven deficiency under medical supervision is an intake sensible and harmless.
Diet is a major influencer of heart health
In addition to the risk factors of lack of exercise, obesity and genetics, nutrition plays a crucial role in the development of heart diseases. Current studies indicate that roughly every second heart disease is due to poor nutrition. The Spanish PREDIMED study also shows that the incidence of heart attack, stroke or death from cardiovascular diseases decreases by 30 percent if you follow the principles of a Mediterranean diet that are considered healthy.
The pill against bad conscience
"In everyday life, however, many people find it difficult to eat healthy," adds graduate ecotrophologist Susanne Schmidt-Tesch. The nutritionist sees this as a worrying trend, which is often associated with the use of the vitamin pill. "If you then have a guilty conscience because vegetables, fruit or vegetable oils are neglected again and again, people like to use nutritional supplements to compensate," said the nutrition expert.
Omega-3 fatty acids for heart protection
Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids seem to provide special heart protection. Fish rich in fat and many vegetable oils such as linseed, walnut or rapeseed oil are rich in these fatty acids. Fish oil capsules promise a preventive effect against coronary heart disease. The Heart Foundation advises caution here. "However, the current study situation does not speak for the benefit of taking omega-3 fatty acids, for example in the form of fish oil capsules," emphasizes Hauner.
Healthy eating is key
With a healthy diet, you should eat enough omega-3 fatty acids. It is not necessary to take such capsules. With some nutrients, even a negative effect can result from long-term intake of food supplements. For example, the so-called HOPE study from 2005 shows that long-term intake of vitamin E capsules is associated with a higher risk of heart failure.
Possible overdose with vitamin pills
"The combination of supplements and the enrichment of more and more foods with vitamins and minerals increases the risk that an overdose will occur and the tolerable limit values will be exceeded," explains Hauner. People would also tend to weigh themselves in a false sense of security by taking them and, as a result, pay less attention to healthy eating.
The best nutritional concepts for people with heart problems
The German Heart Foundation advises that instead of dietary supplements, you should choose a balanced diet with lots of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, sufficient protein and vegetable oils and nuts. It is also recommended to consider the basics of the Mediterranean diet. In addition, balanced vegetarian diets are very suitable for people with heart problems. With a vegan diet, care must be taken to ensure that sufficient vitamin B12 is ingested. (vb)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek
- German Heart Foundation: Heart protection from the capsule? Reaching the vitamin pill carries risks (published: April 30, 2020), herzstiftung.de