Folate supplements help prevent high blood pressure

January 19, 2005 in Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

Folate supplements help prevent high blood pressure

Higher intake of folic acid is associated with a decreased risk of developing high blood pressure, particularly among younger women, according to Harvard researchers.

While there have not been any large forward looking studies examining this issue, small studies have suggested that high-dose folic acid supplementation may lower blood pressure, Dr. John P. Forman and colleagues note in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers analyzed information on nearly 94,000 women ages 27 to 44 years participating in the Nurses' Health Study II, none of whom had high blood pressure when the study began. Their folate intake was estimated based on food questionnaires and information regarding folate-containing supplements.  After adjusting for factors such as physical activity, weight and family history, women who consumed at least 1000 micrograms per day of total folate had a 46 percent lower risk of becoming hypertensive compared with those with an intake less than 200 micrograms per day.

The benefit came primarily from folate supplementation rather than dietary folate, the researchers found. This may be because relatively few subjects consumed very high quantities of dietary folate, or perhaps folate from supplements is more readily used by the body.

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