Researchers: supplements don't improve heart health

You're driving yourself hard, not eating like you should. So, can a daily multivitamin fill in the gaps?

Researchers at St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto say maybe not.

They looked at 5 years of study data and found the most popular supplements had no impact, good or bad, on cardiovascular health. Emory Healthcare Internist Dr. Sharon Bergquist says this is the latest study to find little health benefit to taking vitamins and minerals.

"The recommendation that I think a lot of experts agree on is, it's really important to get those vitamins and minerals but to get them from food," Dr. Bergquist says.  "That seems to be the critical difference."

Dr. Bergquist says our bodies absorb nutrients in food differently than they do from a pill.

"In food, those vitamins and minerals are packaged in nature's packaging, and our bodies are able to digest and absorb it in a way that we don't necessarily do with supplements," she says.  "Because, with supplements, they've been taken out of the context of food."

Your best bet, she says, is a well-balanced diet.

"(Eat) lots of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils," Bergquist says.  "These foods are the plant foods that have all the nutrients that you need to protect against disease."

That said, Bergquist says you may need a supplement if you're pregnant, low B12 or vitamin D -- or you have a medical condition that makes absorbing and breaking down nutrients from food more difficult.

"But, for a person who is healthy but eats a pretty good diet, the benefit of that supplement (on heart health) is very questionable," she says.