B vitamins may not cut risk of heart disease

September 7, 2005 in Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

B vitamins may not cut risk of heart disease

Despite previous findings, giving B vitamins to heart attack survivors does not cut their risk of having another attack.

The latest research from the University of Tromso in Norway indicates that folic acid and vitamin B6 may actually mean an increase in risk in heart disease. Individuals who took folic acid or vitamin B6 alone were at a slight, but statistically insignificant, increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, individuals who took both supplements increased their risk by up to 20 percent.

These findings contradict the long held belief that folic acid and vitamin B6 can prevent heart disease by reducing levels of a substance in the blood called homocysteine. Homocysteine, an amino acid, is produced when the body metabolises high-protein foods. Scientists think that high concentrations could damage blood-vessel walls.

However, while this latest 3-year trial did show that vitamins could reduce homocysteine levels by around 30 percent, this did not translate into lowered heart attack risk in people who already have established heart disease, therefore dismissing the previous homocysteine hypothesis. Whether these B vitamins can prevent heart attacks in healthy people remains to be proven.

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