Folic acid reduces homocysteine levels in older adults.




American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Folic Acid Cardiovascular Disease
Professional Data: Folic Acid Cardiovascular Disease


Diseases of the heart and circulation are so common and the public is so well acquainted with the major symptoms that result from cardiovascular disorders that patients, and occasionally physicians, wrongly attribute many unrelated complaints to cardiovascular disease (CVD). It should not be a surprise that this occurs since most patients are aware that cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States. There are four principle properties of the cardiovascular system that can be evaluated to provide information to help manage cardiovascular disease.1 These include movement of electrical signals through the heart, heart pump function, blood flow through the heart, and anatomy.

There are many risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Three that cannot be changed are older age, male gender, and a family history of CVD. Additionally, three other major risk factors include cigarette smoking, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Other identified factors associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease include lack of exercise, diabetes, obesity, too much alcohol, increased homocysteine levels, certain infections and inflammation, estrogens, androgens, and certain psychosocial factors. The combination of multiple risk factors must also be considered.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated that lowering homocysteine levels could lower the risk of CVD. This study investigated the minimum dosage of folic acid needed to lower these levels. Involving 316 men and women, this study administered placebo or folic acid in the dosages of 50, 100, 200, 400, 600, or 800 mcg. The results showed that the increasing mg dosage of folic acid was associated with decreasing levels of homocysteine. In conclusion, the researchers stated that 400 mcg is the lowest dosage associated with decreasing homocysteine levels.2


1. American Heart Association medical/scientific statement. Classification of functional capacity and objective assessment of patients with diseases of the heart. Circulation. 1994;90:644-645.
2. Van Oort, et al. Folic acid and reduction of plasma homocysteine concentrations in older adults: a dose-response study. Am J Clin Nutr. May 2003;77(5):1318-1323.