People taking vitamins to combat the development of cardiovascular disease or cancer are “wasting their money”, experts have said.

In 2021, nearly $50 billion was spent on dietary supplements and vitamins in the United States (US).

Scientist Dr Jeffrey Linder said: “Patients ask all the time, what supplements should I be taking? They’re wasting money and focus thinking there has to be a magic set of pills that will keep them healthy when we should all be following the evidence-based practices of eating healthy and exercising.”

The United States Preventive Services Task Force’s (USPSTF) new guidance outlines that there is little evidence of multivitamins and supplements reducing the risk of heart disease or cancer.

“The task force is not saying don’t take multivitamins but there’s this idea that if these were really good for you, we’d know by now,” said Linder.

According to the task force, beta-carotene supplements can trigger the development of lung cancer.

Linder said: “The harm is that talking with patients about supplements during the very limited time we get to see them, we’re missing out on counselling about how to really reduce cardiovascular risks, like through exercise or smoking cessation.”

Vitamins extracted from fruit and vegetables are also not associated with a lower heart disease and cancer risk, the researchers have said.

More than 50 per cent of adults living in the US take dietary supplements, the study has reported.

Experts have said that this new guidance does not apply for pregnant women as vitamins are vital for them during their pregnancy.

Fellow researcher, Dr Natalie Cameron said: “Pregnant individuals should keep in mind that these guidelines don’t apply to them.

“Certain vitamins, such as folic acid, are essential for pregnant women to support healthy fetal development. The most common way to meet these needs is to take a prenatal vitamin.”

She added: “More data is needed to understand how specific vitamin supplementation may modify risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes and cardiovascular complications during pregnancy.”

These findings have been published in the journal JAMA.

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