(2/25/98) - Eating about twice the recommended
daily allowance (RDA) of folic acid and vitamin B6 may reduce womens risk
of heart disease, according to the 14-year Nurses' Health Study of more than 80,000
nurses. The finding supports the theory that homocysteine, an amino acid that these
vitamins help diminish, may contribute to heart disease, researchers say.
Previous studies have shown that a high intake of
folic acid and B6 lowers homocysteine concentrations in the blood. The amino
acid helps plaque to collect in the hearts arteries, which can lead to a stroke or
heart attack. Up to 40 percent of heart-disease patients have high concentrations of
homocysteine, researchers say.
At the outset of the Nurses' Health Study, the
women had no history of heart disease, cancer, high cholesterol, or diabetes. However,
during the 14 years of follow-up, 939 of the nurses developed heart disease. These women
tended to eat or take the least amount of folic acid and B6 of all the study
participants, Eric B. Rimm of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and his
colleagues report in the February 4 Journal of the American Medical Association.
Ultra Body Toddy
(click for nutrient details)
[contains adequate and optimal amounts of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants]
Compared with others in the group, the women who
got the largest amounts of the vitamins faced about half the risk of heart disease, even
after researchers adjusted for factors such as age, hypertension, smoking, fiber and
vitamin E intake. They consumed more than 400 micrograms a day of folateits RDA is
180 micrograms for non-pregnant women --and more than 3 milligrams of B6--its
RDA is 1.6 milligrams for women. Taking a lot of either vitamin on its own decreased a
womans risk by about 30 percent. Studies of men have produced similar results. For
men, the folate RDA is 200 micrograms and B6 RDA is 2 milligrams.
Over the course of the study, women completed
four detailed questionnaires about their diet. Their main sources of folate were vitamins,
cold cereal, orange juice, lettuce, eggs, broccoli, and spinach. The B6 sources
were vitamins, beef, cold cereal, potatoes, bananas, chicken, milk, and tuna fish.
Women who drank alcohol moderately and got lots
of the folic acid and vitamin B6 were the least likely to fall prey to heart
disease, the researchers note.
This is an interesting article from the ongoing Nurses' Health Study, which supports the
idea of eating one's fruits and vegetables and taking a multivitamin a day. Most
multivitamins contain 400 ug of folate, which appears to help lower homocysteine levels.
Homocysteine is an amino acid which is associated with an increased risk of
atherosclerosis. We have not proved that lowering homocysteine lowers one's risk of CHD.
In the meantime, it seems prudent to eat a moderate amount of fruits and vegetables and to
consider taking a multivitamin, based on these and other findings.
SOURCES: Rimm, Eric B. ScD, et al, "Folate
and Vitamin B6 From Diet and Supplements in Relation to Risk of Coronary Heart
Disease Among Women", The Journal of the American Medical Association,
February 4, 1998, Volume 279, Number 5, 359-364; JAMA News, Press Release, February 4,
1998; Mann, Denise, "B Vitamins Found to Prevent Heart Disease", February 3,
1998, Medical Tribune News Service; Reuters Health Information Services, Inc., February 3,