News Capsules: Nutrition Supplement  

New studies on the health benefits of folic acid, vitamin D and vitamin E.

| May/June 1997

Folic acid fights heart disease

Taking a folic acid supplement every day—or eating plenty of broccoli or oranges —can dramatically reduce the risk of death from heart disease, according to a fifteen-year study by the Cancer Bureau of Health Canada.

The study, recently reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, included 5,056 men and women, aged ­thirty-five to seventy-nine, with no history of heart disease. ­Participants with the lowest folate levels in their blood, who consumed well below the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance of 0.4 milligrams of folic acid, had 69 percent more deaths from heart disease than those who consumed 1 mg or more per day.

Clinical studies have shown that elevated blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that promotes narrowing of the arteries, are related to low levels of folate and vitamin B12. Homocysteine is “unequivocally linked with vascular disease,” according to an article in the British Medical ­Journal, and “can be reduced simply and cheaply with folic acid.” (1)

Vitamin D for healthy knees

Consuming nearly twice the recommended 200 daily units of vitamin D can reduce the effects of osteo­arthritis of the knee by as much as a third, according to an eight-year study of 556 ­elderly patients by Boston University Medical Center.

Osteoarthritis is characterized by loss of cartilage in the joint, leading to pain­ful friction as bone rubs against bone.

The study concluded that the vitamin may protect the cart­i­lage from deterior­ating. (2)

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