In the journals: No cardiovascular help from B vitamins in high-risk women

In the journals

No cardiovascular help from B vitamins in high-risk women

Published: September, 2008

Taking folic acid (vitamin B9) and vitamins B6 and B12 does not reduce the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke in women at high risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). That's the conclusion of a randomized trial involving more than 5,000 women with three or more coronary risk factors or a history of CVD. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that the supplements were no better than a placebo, even though they lowered blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that's been linked to heart and vascular trouble. Results were published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (May 7, 2008).

Observational studies have found a link between high blood levels of homocysteine and cardiovascular problems, and research has shown that folic acid, B6, and B12 supplements bring down homocysteine levels. Yet in earlier randomized trials, lowering homocysteine through folic acid and B vitamin therapy has not prevented heart attacks or strokes in people with CVD. Harvard researchers believed that these trials had not lasted long enough (most had less than four years of follow-up), and had included too few women. (Some evidence suggests that women gain more from homocysteine-lowering strategies than men do.)

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