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American Heart Association Comment: "Folate And Vitamin B6 From Diet And Supplements In Relation To Risk Of Coronary Heart Disease Among Women"

Report from the Journal of the American Medical Association (Feb. 4, 1998) A study of 80,082 female nurses over a 14-year period has indicated that increased intake of two vitamins, folate and vitamin B-6, is predictive of reduced risk of coronary heart disease (heart attack or death from coronary heart disease).

These results are consistent with earlier data indicating a relationship of folate intake with coronary disease risk in men, and with other evidence that low blood levels of folate and vitamin B-6 are indicative of increased heart disease risk.

Although the present study did not include measurements of blood homocysteine, an amino acid that has been linked to increased heart and vascular disease risk, it is known that both folate and vitamin B-6 consumption can lower blood homocysteine levels. The study, authored by Eric B. Rimm, Sc.D., and colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, suggests that reduced homocysteine may account for a major portion of the apparent protection from heart disease afforded by folate and vitamin B-6.

Notably, the findings suggest a benefit for intake of both vitamins at levels beyond those currently recommended for the general population. The current recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for folate is 180 micrograms (mcg) for women and 200 mcg for men per day. For vitamin B-6, the RDA is 1.6 milligrams (mg) for women and 2 mg for men. A diet, rich in green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, legumes, lean cuts of meat and poultry and fortified cereals could provide an individual with these amounts of folate and vitamin B-6. However, for most individuals, achieving intakes associated with the lowest heart disease risk for women in the JAMA study (400 mcg per day of folate and 3mg/day of vitamin B-6) would require the use of supplements.

Speaking on behalf of the American Heart Association, Ronald M. Krauss, M.D., chairman of the AHA's Nutrition Committee, says the results are "intriguing,
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Contact: Darcy Spitz
darcys@ahanyc.org
212-878-5940
American Heart Association
4-Feb-1998


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