New study findings suggest that beer may provide enough of the B vitamin folate to lower the risk of heart disease. Beer is produced from barley and hops with the addition of brewing yeasts, which contain B vitamins.
European scientists measured blood levels of folate, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamin B12 in 543 residents of Pilsen, an area with one of the highest rates of beer consumption in the world. The B vitamins they measured are linked to lower levels of homocysteine, a compound in the blood associated with increased heart disease risk.
The 35- to 65-year-olds who drank more than 6.3 ounces of pure alcohol from beer weekly had the lowest blood levels of homocysteine and the highest blood levels of folate. This suggests that moderate beer consumption may help to maintain the total homocysteine levels in the normal range due to high folate content.
The findings support earlier research showing that drinking beer regularly for 3 weeks led to a 30% increase in vitamin B6 levels. The study did not assess the diets of individuals and therefore it is unclear how much of various B vitamins they consumed from other sources.
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