Roundup: Supplements Don't Help Heart; Babies & Solid Foods; and Diabetes Linked to Overwork Among Women

Vitamin, Mineral Supplements Do Not Promote Heart Health, Researchers Conclude

Earlier this year, a large review of randomized trials determined that popular fish oil supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids are ineffective for the prevention of heart disease. Now, another study indicates that a wider range of vitamin and mineral supplements bought by millions of Americans do not help prevent heart disease.

The newest finding is based on an analysis of 18 studies done between 1970 and 2016 in five countries (the United States, Japan, France, Sweden and Germany). Each study included in the analysis looked at how vitamins and mineral supplements — which are not reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for either safety or effectiveness — affect heart health.

More than 2 million participants were involved, with an average of 12 years of follow-up. Researchers found no association between taking multivitamin and mineral supplements and a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. The study looked at supplements that contained more than 3 vitamins or minerals.

The findings agree with guidelines from the American Heart Association and physicians, which do not recommend using multivitamins or mineral supplements to prevent heart disease. Instead, lifestyle modifications that include healthy eating, regular exercise, weight management and no smoking and no excessive alcohol consumption are recommended. That’s in addition to regular medical screenings to look for risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.

“It has been exceptionally difficult to convince people, including nutritional researchers, to acknowledge that multivitamin and mineral supplements don’t prevent cardiovascular diseases,” said study lead author Joonseok Kim, M.D., assistant professor of cardiology in the Department of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in a statement. “I hope our study findings help decrease the hype around multivitamin and mineral supplements and encourage people to use proven methods to reduce their risk of cardiovascular diseases – such as eating more fruits and vegetables, exercising and avoiding tobacco.”

Nonetheless, as many as 30 percent of Americans use multivitamin and mineral supplements, with the global nutritional supplement industry expected to reach $278 billion by 2024, the study states.

There are no provisions in the law for the FDA to “approve” dietary supplements, nor can the product’s label make health claims to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat or prevent a disease.

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Earlier Start to Solid Foods for Babies May Improve Sleep Health, New Research Says

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers exclusively breastfeed until about 6 months of age and then begin to introduce solid foods. However, an alternative feeding plan that introduces solid foods as early as three months is also safe and may improve sleeping habits in the newborns, new research suggests.

“The early introduction of solids into the infant’s diet was associated with longer sleep duration, less frequent waking at night, and a reduction in reported very serious sleep problems,” British researchers concluded in the new study.

Gideon Lack, M.D., senior author of the study and a professor and head of the Department of Paediatric Allergy at King’s College London, told CNN that the study’s most important finding was the “more than 50 perent reduction in the number of families reporting severe sleep disturbances in their babies.”

Researchers began by recruiting more than 1,300 babies in England and Wales between 2009 and 2012. All the babies were 3 months old, and in good health. Their mothers exclusively breastfed them. Then one group was asked to exclusively breastfeed the infants until six months, while the second group was asked to continue breastfeeding — yet also introduce solid foods. Researchers collected data on the infants every month, up to one year and then every three months up to 3 years old.

Despite the new findings, the AAP notes that introducing solid foods to baby before 4 months of age has been linked to excess weight gain and body fat as children grow. ” A substantial number of families introduce complementary solid foods around 3-4 months, especially if the infant is perceived as fussy,” the AAP states.

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Women Who Worked Overtime May Have HIgher Risk of Diabetes, Study Finds

A new study indicates that women who work too many hours may have a higher risk of diabetes. Canadian researchers studied the risk of developing diabetes in more than 7,000 men and women ages 35 to 74 who were working different numbers of weekly hours.

Basing their findings on medical records, researchers found that one out of 10 people in the study developed diabetes, in particular, if they were men, older, and obese. Women generally were less likely to get diabetes than men, but there was a surprising exception: Women who worked overtime, or over 45 hours per week, were 63 percent more likely to get diabetes, compared to women who worked regular hours. The diabetes risk actually decreased in men working long hours.

The reason: Women tend to work longer hours, both at the office and at home, the study’s authors say.

“The difference in paid and unpaid hours for men and women are probably why,” Mahée Gilbert-Ouimet, M.D., the lead researcher on the study, told ABC News. “Women tend to do twice as much unpaid work, like household chores and other family duties.”

The stress of so much work — both paid and unpaid — may contribute to increases in stress hormones, which affect blood sugar control, the study found.

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