According to a new study, women who are at a high risk of heart disease are unlikely to realise any benefit from taking antioxidant vitamins C, E or beta carotene - but nor are they likely to suffer any harm.
Vitamins C, E and beta carotene - which the body converts into vitamin A - have no effect on lowering the chances of heart disease or death in high-risk women, scientists said last night.
Some previous studies have linked all three to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
The new study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, involved examining data for 8,171 women over the age of 40 who took part in the women's antioxidant cardiovascular study in the US , starting in 1995 or 1996 and ending in 2005.
The women all had a history of cardiovascular disease or had three or more risk factors for developing it, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol.
They were randomly split into groups and given either 500 milligrams of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) every day, 600 units of vitamin E every other day or 50 milligrams of beta carotene every other day, reports Scotsman.
However this new study may not have a major impact on the supplements category if it is bourn in mind that it was conducted on women who had already had a history of heart disease or who suffered from three or more risk factors (self reported hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes mellitus, parental history of heart attack before the age of 60, obesity, and current cigarette smoking).
This means that caution should be applied in extrapolating the results to a wider demographic.
The researchers initiated the study since they said randomized trials have largely failed to support an effect of antioxidant vitamins on the risk of cardiovascular disease - even though diets with a high intake of fruit and vegetables have been linked to reduced rates of coronary heart disease and stroke, NutraIngredients.com informs.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969