Taking B vitamins is unlikely to prevent heart attack and stroke in people who have heart disease or risk factors for heart disease, according to new research published by the Cochrane Collaboration.
The idea that B vitamins like folic acid, B-6 and B-12 might help prevent heart complications stems from the fact that they lower blood levels of an amino acid called homocysteine.
Homocysteine levels are often elevated in people with atherosclerosis, a buildup of plaque in the arteries that can lead to heart attack and stroke.
This current report was based on eight clinical trials of more than 24,000 people with heart disease, atherosclerosis or a history of stroke, heart attack or other heart complications, or major risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Testing the effects of folic acid, vitamin B-6, B-12 or a combination of the these B vitamins, researchers found that B vitamin supplementation did nothing to lower study participants' risks of heart attack, stroke or death when compared to standard medical care during the seven-year follow-up.
To date, no clinical trial has proven that B vitamin supplements prevent heart attack and stroke.
For heart health, experts advise forgoing B vitamins in favor of proven tactics like smoking cessation, exercise regularly, regular blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar check ups, and a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
For more information about nutrition for heart health, check Leslie Beck's Heart Healthy Foods for Life.
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