B vitamin supplementation may not improve heart health

August 21, 2008 in Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

B vitamin supplementation may not improve heart health

Reducing blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine with folic acid and other B vitamins fails to prevent heart attacks and strokes in people with heart disease, say Norwegian researchers.

Accumulation of homocysteine in the blood can damage blood vessel walls and lead to build-up of cholesterol. For this reason, homocysteine is thought to be a marker for heart disease - but not a cause.

In this new study, 3,096 patients with heart disease were divided into four groups to test the effect of different combinations of B6 and B12 vitamins with or without folic acid. During the study, incidence of heart attacks and strokes were recorded.

After one year, the researchers found no evidence that a combination of folic acid plus vitamin B12 or B6 reduced the risk of death or major cardiovascular events like heart attacks or strokes.

B vitamins such as folic acid help to convert homocysteine into other less harmful amino acids but the link between B vitamins and heart disease prevention remains controversial.

Folic acid refers to the synthetic form of folate which is found in foods like leafy green vegetables, asparagus, orange juice and beans.

While folic acid supplementation may not prevent heart disease, it's important to consume enough folate to meet your daily requirement (400 micrograms per day) because it plays a vital role in the formation of DNA and red blood cells.


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