HealthDay News — Multivitamins do not reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events in older men, results from the Physicians’ Health Study II showed.

Rates of myocardial infarction, stroke or cardiovascular death were no different between those who took a daily multivitamin and those who took placebo (hazard ratio=1.01; 95% CI: 0.91-1.10), Howard Sesso, ScD, MPH, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, reported at the American Heart Association’s 2012 Scientific Sessions. 

“The main reason for taking a multivitamin still remains to prevent vitamin and mineral deficiency,” Sesso said during a press conference. The study findings were also published in the Journal of the American Medical Association to coincide with the meeting.

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The Physicians’ Health Study II began in 1997 and included 7,641 male physicians from the Physicians’ Health Study I and 7,000 newly enrolled male physicians — 754 of whom had a history of CVD. The aim was to assess the effects of vitamin E, vitamin C and multivitamin supplements on CVD and cancer.

Study participants had an average age of 64 years and were generally healthy, reporting low rates of current smoking (less than 4%), good dietary habits and a high rate of exercising at least once a week (about 60%). During an 11.2 year follow-up period, the researchers identified 1,732 confirmed major cardiovascular events.

Overall, taking a daily multivitamin had no significant effect on major CV events compared with placebo (11 vs. 10.8 events per 1,000 person years; P=0.91). There was no benefit with multivitamins for the following outcomes:

  • Total myocardial infarction — 3.9 and 4.2 events per 1,000 person-years (P = 0.39)
  • Total stroke — 4.1 and 3.9 events per 1,000 person-years (P=0.48)
  • CVD mortality — 5.0 and 5.1 events per 1,000 person-years (P = 0.47)
  • Total mortality (P=0.13)

There was no difference between men with or without a history of CVD for the effect of a daily multivitamin on major cardiovascular events.

“Among this population of U.S. male physicians, taking a daily multivitamin did not reduce major cardiovascular events, MI, stroke and CVD mortality after more than a decade of treatment and follow-up,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Sesso H et al. JAMA. 2012; 308: 1751-1760.