B vitamins fail to cut CV risk

Evidence continues to mount showing that additional folic acid and B vitamin have no effect on the probability of cardiovascular (CV) events, even among high-risk women.

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston focused on 5,442 health professionals who were already participating in an ongoing randomized trial of antioxidant vitamins. The women were older than 42 years and had either a history of CV event or three or more coronary risk factors (JAMA. 2008; 299:2027-2036).

Divided into two groups, the women received either a daily pill combining 2.5 mg folic acid, 50 mg vitamin B6, and 1 mg vitamin B12 or a placebo. During follow-up, 796 (14.6%) experienced one or more of the following: heart attack, stroke, coronary revascularization, or CV death.

The supplements appeared, however, to significantly reduce serum homocysteine. Levels were 18.5% (2.27 µmol/L) lower in the active group than the placebo arm, but the reduction had no effect on CV events.

“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 CV disease,” the authors conclude.

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