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Study: Vitamins Not Helping Heart

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Some vitamin supplements are not helpful when it comes to fighting heart disease, according to a new study.

Medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay explained on The Early Show that researchers examined the importance of anti-oxidant Vitamins A and E in pill forms (the anti-oxidants are known to have protective effects when it comes to cancer), to help prevent hardening of the arteries.

The study found that Vitamin E did not reduce death from heart disease or stroke. And, they found that Vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene led to a small increase in death from heart disease.

The new study published in Friday's The Lancet medical journal looked at a large number of previous studies that looked at anti-oxidants and heart disease and crunched all the numbers.

Senay says the medical community thought for a long time that taking Vitamin E and A supplements was a good idea for people with heart disease, but the new study is more evidence that it is not.

The researchers say that the results of the study shows that Vitamin E and A supplements should be discontinued as a way to prevent help heart disease. They also say that clinical studies of beta-carotene and Vitamin E for heart disease should be stopped because of the risks.

Senay says the results do not apply to all other vitamins, but doctors are seeing more evidence to be skeptical of using anti-oxidant vitamins for heart disease. One recent study indicated they may interfere with the action of beneficial cholesterol-lowering drugs. But not all vitamins are created equal. Vitamins such as B-12, B-6 and folic acid have been shown to help people with heart disease.

Multivitamins are OK for most people, according to Senay. But when it comes to individual vitamin supplements, people have to consider why they want to take them. She says, in general, people should take vitamins reasonably, sensibly and in the right amounts.

It is recommended by medical experts to look at the suggested daily allowances of each vitamin and talk to your doctor, because what is right for one person isn't necessarily fine for another.

The best source of vitamins is a healthy, balanced diet. But, Senay says, it is okay to use a multivitamin as a backup. She also says the latest study does not suggests people at risk of heart disease to stop taking multivitamins.