Americans Urged To Consume More Folic Acid

Hospital of Rhode Island and Ronald Krauss, M.D., Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, Berkley, Calif.

When the AHA Nutrition Committee met in November 1998, they announced that homocysteine is "worthy of consideration by the press, the American public and the world." They added that homocysteine is a potential non-traditional risk factor and that "diet is a major controlling factor for blood levels of homocysteine."

According to the Science Advisory, "a number of studies have shown inverse relationships of blood homocysteine concentrations with plasma/serum levels of folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12."

Homocysteine is an emerging risk factor for cardiovascular disease, this country's leading cause of death. One million Americans are projected to die of cardiovascular disease in 1998. An American dies from cardiovascular disease every 33 seconds, and the toll on this country's economy exceeds $150 billion annually.

About 30 years ago, scientists noticed that children with a rare genetic disorder associated with elevated blood homocysteine developed premature cardiovascular disease, but only recently have scientists studied homocysteine as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease in adults as well as the effect of folic acid and other B vitamins in lowering homocysteine.

"It will probably soon be as common to have one's homocysteine level checked as it is now to have one's cholesterol level checked," said Dr. Malinow. "Folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12 are likely to become significant weapons in the war against heart disease."


Contact: Tom Johnson
General Mills

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