Effects of B vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids on cardiovascular diseases: a randomised placebo controlled trial

BMJ. 2010 Nov 29:341:c6273. doi: 10.1136/bmj.c6273.


Objective: To investigate whether dietary supplementation with B vitamins or omega 3 fatty acids, or both, could prevent major cardiovascular events in patients with a history of ischaemic heart disease or stroke.

Design: Double blind, randomised, placebo controlled trial; factorial design.

Setting: Recruitment throughout France via a network of 417 cardiologists, neurologists, and other physicians.

Participants: 2501 patients with a history of myocardial infarction, unstable angina, or ischaemic stroke.

Intervention: Daily dietary supplement containing 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (560 μg), vitamin B-6 (3 mg), and vitamin B-12 (20 μg) or placebo; and containing omega 3 fatty acids (600 mg of eicosapentanoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid at a ratio of 2:1) or placebo. Median duration of supplementation was 4.7 years.

Main outcome measures: Major cardiovascular events, defined as a composite of non-fatal myocardial infarction, stroke, or death from cardiovascular disease.

Results: Allocation to B vitamins lowered plasma homocysteine concentrations by 19% compared with placebo, but had no significant effects on major vascular events (75 v 82 patients, hazard ratio, 0.90 (95% confidence interval 0.66 to 1.23, P=0.50)). Allocation to omega 3 fatty acids increased plasma concentrations of omega 3 fatty acids by 37% compared with placebo, but also had no significant effect on major vascular events (81 v 76 patients, hazard ratio 1.08 (0.79 to 1.47, P=0.64)).

Conclusion: This study does not support the routine use of dietary supplements containing B vitamins or omega 3 fatty acids for prevention of cardiovascular disease in people with a history of ischaemic heart disease or ischaemic stroke, at least when supplementation is introduced after the acute phase of the initial event.

Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN41926726.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Angina, Unstable / diet therapy
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / administration & dosage*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / diet therapy
  • Patient Compliance
  • Stroke / diet therapy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vitamin B Complex / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin B Complex / blood


  • Biomarkers
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Vitamin B Complex

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN41926726