By Stephanie Stahl

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — New research on multivitamins says there are no benefits when it comes to cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States.

One in three Americans take multivitamins and minerals, spending an estimated $21 billion on supplements every year.

A new analysis suggests, when it comes to heart health, multivitamins and minerals are not worth it.

The research published in an American Heart Association Journal looked at 18 previous studies on multivitamins that tracked more than 2 million people for an average of 12 years.

Credit: (CBS3)

They found multivitamins do not prevent heart attacks, strokes or cardiovascular death.

“Americans who are taking these supplements, presumably because they’re concerned about their health, would be better served by spending their money on good nutrition in the form of a healthy diet,” explained Dr. Erin Michos, a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins University.

Researchers say the best multivitamins and minerals come from the produce aisle. Fruits and vegetables already have a proven track record in lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Supplements are also not FDA-approved for safety or effectiveness.

“People shouldn’t be under the misconception that just because you can get these over the counter that they’re safe,” Dr. Michos said. “Each year, an estimated 23,000 individuals are seen in emergency departments every year due to adverse effects from different supplements.”

But the Council on Responsible Nutrition, a supplement trade group, says multivitamins fill nutrient gaps in our less-than-perfect diets and are not intended to serve as magic bullets.

The group also points out multi-vitamins help low-income Americans combat insufficient nutrient levels for less than a dime a day.

Cardiologists say things that have been shown to be heart healthy beyond a good diet include getting regular exercise and not smoking, as well as keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check.

Stephanie Stahl