We live in a world inundated with the latest diets and supplements, all promising to enhance our health in various ways. However, dietary and/or supplement studies are notoriously difficult to execute and evaluate, making the actual evidence supporting their purported health benefits elusive. In some cases, fad diets and supplements have proven to be harmful. For instance, while many believe that taking a daily multivitamin is essential for good health, large, well-controlled studies have struggled to demonstrate any significant benefits from this practice.

Two studies shed light on this issue within the context of cardiovascular disease risk. In the first study, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh provide evidence suggesting that a high-protein diet could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease by activating pro-inflammatory cells known as macrophages, which play a central role in heart disease. In the second study, scientists from the Cleveland Clinic demonstrate that excess niacin (also known as vitamin B3) – commonly found in multivitamins – may lead to the production of metabolites that contribute to the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Therefore, even if we assume that a particular diet or supplement has beneficial effects on our health, these benefits need to be weighed against the potential unintended costs. Both the costs and benefits should be considered in both the long-term and the short-term.

Niacin Study

High Protein Diet Study