Folic acid/B vitamin combo shows no reduced rate of cardio events

CHICAGO Women at high-risk of cardiovascular disease who took a daily supplement of folic acid and vitamin B6 and B12 for seven years did not have an overall reduced rate of cardiovascular events, despite a significant lowering of homocysteine levels, according to a study in the May 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“Homocysteine [an amino acid produced by the body] levels have been directly associated with cardiovascular risk in observational studies; and daily supplementation with folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, or a combination have been shown to reduce homocysteine levels to varying degrees in intervention studies,” the authors noted. Observational data suggest cardiovascular benefits from B-vitamin supplementation may be greater among women, yet women have been underrepresented in published randomized trials.

Christine Albert of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, and colleagues tested whether a combination of folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 would reduce total cardiovascular events among women at high risk for the development of cardiovascular disease over 7 years of follow-up. Within an ongoing randomized trial of antioxidant vitamins, 5,442 women who were U.S. health professionals age 42 years or older, with either a history of CVD or three or more coronary risk factors, were enrolled in a randomized trial to receive a combination pill containing folic acid (2.5 mg), vitamin B6 (50 mg), and vitamin B12 (1 mg) or a matching placebo.

“Our results are consistent with prior randomized trials performed primarily among men with established vascular disease and do not support the use of folic acid and B vitamin supplements as preventive interventions for CVD in these high-risk fortified populations,” the authors noted.

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