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Folic Acid Can Help Prevent Heart Disease, Strokes, University Of Ulster Researcher Reports

Date:
October 2, 2002
Source:
University Of Ulster
Summary:
Folic acid is not only a safeguard against spina bifida and other birth defects in babies – it may also prevent heart disease and strokes, two of Northern Ireland's biggest killers. Research at the University of Ulster has shown that folic acid and three other related B-vitamins can prevent the accumulation of a high blood level of homocysteine, a new risk factor for heart disease and strokes.

Folic acid is not only a safeguard against spina bifida and other birth defects in babies – it may also prevent heart disease and strokes, two of Northern Ireland's biggest killers.

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Research at the University of Ulster has shown that folic acid and three other related B-vitamins can prevent the accumulation of a high blood level of homocysteine, a new risk factor for heart disease and strokes.

The risk of high homocysteine is similar to the risk of high cholesterol - but the good news is that it is much easier to lower homocysteine levels through increased intake of folic acid.

As well as folic acid, vitamin B-12 and vitamin B-6 can help to prevent a build up of homocysteine.

Professor Helene McNulty, Professor of Human Nutrition and Dietetics at the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Ulster, said: "As the folic acid story unfolds, it is becoming clear that its importance goes beyond its major role for mothers-to-be and that, in fact, it is not just a woman's nutrient.

"New and emerging roles for this important vitamin include its probable role in protecting against heart disease and strokes by preventing the accumulation of homocysteine."

Professor McNulty's research confirmed that a fourth B-vitamin – riboflavin – can also play an important role in protecting against heart disease and strokes.

Around 12% of people have a particular genetic make-up which predisposes them to high homocysteine levels. Riboflavin, which is found in dairy foods like milk and yoghurt, prevents the build up of homocysteine in people with this genetic make-up.

Professor McNulty said: "The evidence appears to suggest that if riboflavin intake is good the genetic predisposition towards elevated homocysteine may be overcome. This is a classic example of what scientists call a gene-nutrient interaction".

"To protect against elevated homocysteine in all individuals, including those with the genetic predisposition, a good intake of all four B-vitamins is recommended."

This research was carried out with funding from the Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke Association and the EU.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Ulster. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Ulster. "Folic Acid Can Help Prevent Heart Disease, Strokes, University Of Ulster Researcher Reports." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 October 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/10/021002070448.htm>.
University Of Ulster. (2002, October 2). Folic Acid Can Help Prevent Heart Disease, Strokes, University Of Ulster Researcher Reports. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/10/021002070448.htm
University Of Ulster. "Folic Acid Can Help Prevent Heart Disease, Strokes, University Of Ulster Researcher Reports." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/10/021002070448.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

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