Folic acid supplements: Can they prevent heart disease?

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Folic acid supplements: Can they prevent heart disease?

Question

Is there any benefit in taking folic acid supplements to treat or prevent heart disease?

Muzafar
India

Answer

The bottom line is no. There has been much enthusiasm about the possible role of folic acid supplements in preventing and treating heart disease. But multiple clinical trials involving folic acid supplements have shown no such heart benefits.

Folic acid (folate) and other B vitamins help break down homocysteine, an amino acid in your blood. Too much homocysteine is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. For this reason, some scientists have speculated that folic acid supplements may lower homocysteine levels — which, in turn, may reduce the risk of heart disease. However, this effect has not been proved. Also, it's unclear whether high homocysteine levels are a direct cause or simply the result of coronary artery disease.

At this time, the American Heart Association (AHA) doesn't recommend use of folic acid supplements by the general public to reduce the risk of heart disease. However, if you are at high risk of heart disease, the AHA does recommend a diet rich in folic acid (folate) and other B vitamins. Good food sources of folate include citrus fruits, tomatoes, vegetables and grain products.

Last Updated: 04/17/2007
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