Folic Acid and Vitamin B-6 in Heart Disease.





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Consumer Data: Folic Acid Vitamin B6
Professional Data: Folic Acid Vitamin B6


Folic acid is a member of the water-soluble B vitamin group. Isolated in 1946 from spinach leaves, its name comes from folium, the Latin word for leaf. In the body, folic acid is converted to a more biologically active form. Folic acid occurs in a wide variety of foods. Best sources include dark green leafy vegetables, brewer's yeast, liver, and eggs. Other good sources are beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, orange juice, cabbage, cauliflower, cantaloupe, kidney and lima beans, wheat germ, and whole grain cereals and breads. The body's "friendly" intestinal bacteria also produce folic acid.

Another vitamin from the B vitamin group is pyridoxine (vitamin B6). Pyridoxine is a water-soluble vitamin that is instrumental in more than 100 enzyme reactions in the body. These activities are mostly related to the metabolism of amino acids and proteins. Vitamin B-6 deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies.

Although studies are not conclusive, folic acid and pyridoxine have been linked to a lower risk of coronary heart disease. A recent study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated the relationship between these nutrient intakes and the risk of heart disease in Italian participants. Using questionnaires, researchers collected data on nutrient intake in 507 first-time patients with myocardial infarction and the control group of 478 individuals. The results showed that those with a higher intake of folic acid and vitamin B6 had a lower risk of a heart attack. The authors concluded that intake of these nutrients and the combination of the two may reduce the risk of a heart attack. 1


1. Tavani A, et al. Folate and vitamin B6 intake and risk of acute myocardial infarction in Italy. EJCN. Sept 2004;58(9):1266-1272.