B vitamins reduce risk of heart disease

Blood levels of homocystine – a metabolic waste product involved in coronary heart disease (CHD) – can be inexpensively and effectively lowered with vitamin supplementation, according to new data.

US researchers have concluded that a diet fortified with folic acid or folic acid and cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12) is one of the most cost-effective ways to lower the risk of death due to CHD. They estimate that simply consuming grains fortified with folic acid at the recommended level could reduce the rate of heart attacks by 13 per cent in men and 8 per cent in women, with similar reductions in mortality risk.

In addition to the fortified grains, if all CHD patients took 1 mg of folic acid plus 0.5 mg of vitamin B12 daily, they predict there would be 310,000 fewer deaths and lower CHD-related costs over 10 years, compared with consuming fortified grains alone. Given this, conclude the authors, supplements can be considered standard therapy for men over 45 and women over 55 without CHD (J Am Med Assoc, 2001; 286: 936-43).

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