Folic acid among top heart nutrients

Attendees at the American Heart Association’s 58th Annual High Blood Pressure Research Conference heard evidence that women who consumed more than 800 mcg/day of folic acid reduced their risk of high blood pressure by almost a third compared to those who consumed less than 200 mcg/day. Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston used data from the Nurses Health Study and compared folic acid intake and blood pressure in women aged 26 to 46 years and 43 to 70 years. The most dramatic benefits were seen in the younger age group, where more than 800 mcg/day resulted in a 29% lower risk of high blood pressure. Women in the second age group who consumed 800 mcg/day of folate had a 13% lower risk. Folic acid, or folate, is among the B-vitamin group of nutrients.

B-vitamins are also found to prevent heart disease in men. A study at the Harvard School of Public Health found that higher intake of B-vitamins may contribute to the prevention of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) in men. For 12 years, the researchers followed more than 45,000 male health professionals, aged 40 to 75 years, all without PAD, cardiovascular disease or diabetes and measured their folic acid, vitamin B-6 and B-12 intake. During this time, 308 cases of PAD were confirmed. The results showed that for every 400 mcg/day increment of folic acid intake, the risk of PAD decreased by 21%. Men in the top category of folic acid intake were at a 33% lower risk than men in the bottom category. These results suggest that higher consumption of folic acid may contribute to the prevention of PAD.

Sources: American Heart Association, Oct 2004; J Nutr. 2003 Sep;133(9):2863-7