Folic Acid Supplementation for Blood Pressure in Women.

Date:

21-Jan-2005

Source

JAMA

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Folic Acid Hypertension
Professional Data: Folic Acid Hypertension

Article

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, brussel 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.

Folic acid can also lower homocysteine levels, even when the levels are increased by lipid lowering medications.1 Because homocysteine is an amino acid that is a significant risk factor for atheroslerosis, folic acid may prevent the development and progression of the disease. The same effect has been noted when folic acid is given in conjunction with vitamin B6.

In this recent study, data was collected from women from two prospective cohort studies. The first cohort study was from the Nurses’ Health Study II and involved women aged 27 to 44 years of age. The second was the Nurses’ Health Study II and involved women aged 43 to70 years. Data was collected regarding their folic acid intake from both food sources and supplements, and all women were free from high blood pressure at the beginning of these studies. The results showed that the younger women who consumed 1000 mg daily or more had a decreased risk of high blood pressure when compare to those who had 200 mg daily or less. The same results were shown for the older women, although the stronger in the younger women. The authors concluded that, “Higher total folate intake was associated with a decreased risk of incident hypertension [high blood pressure], particularly in younger women.”2

References

1. Brouwer IA, et al. Low-dose folic acid supplementation decreases plasma homocysteine concentrations: a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr. Jan1999;69(1):99-104.
2. Forman JP, et al. Folate Intake and the Risk of Incident Hypertension Among US Women. JAMA. Jan 2005;293(3):320-9.