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Folic acid no protection against heart disease

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Heart disease cannot be prevented by folic acid supplements, even though they lower levels of an amino acid which has been linked with heart and circulatory disease, according to a new study.

While supplements appear to lower levels of homocysteine - an amino acid in the blood previously linked with heart disease - it doesn’t significantly reduce the actual incidence of heart and circulatory events such as heart attacks or stroke.

Ellen Mason, senior cardiac nurse for the British Heart Foundation, which partly funded the study, said: “Folic acid remains a must for women trying to conceive and in their first trimester because it reduces the chance of a neural tube defect such as spina bifida. But this study concludes the supplement does not protect against heart and circulatory disease.

“Although folic acid supplements can reduce levels of homocysteine, researchers found this did not translate into a significant reduction in heart and circulatory events such as heart attack or stroke. In fact, it didn’t reduce death rates from any cause.

“Adding folic acid to bread in the US to reduce neural tube defects has not shown a significant reduction in heart attacks, strokes, or deaths from heart and circulatory disease, but it hasn’t caused any adverse increases in these conditions either, which is reassuring for the public.

“People should continue to get vitamins and minerals from a healthy balanced diet unless they’re advised to take supplements by their doctor or registered dietician.”

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