- B-6, B-12, and Folic Acid
- Cardiovascular Health
- helps to maintain healthy homocysteine levels in the blood
Features & Benefits
Maintaining healthy homocysteine levels is important for a healthy cardiovascular system. Vitamins B12, B6 and folic acid are needed to process homocysteine. Even moderately-elevated levels of homocysteine have been identified as contributing to an unhealthy heart
Facts About Homocysteine
Maintaining healthy homocysteine levels is a significant (and controllable) factor for a healthy cardiovascular system and has been validated by consistent scientific research. Homocysteine is a sulfur-containing amino acid-based compound naturally occurring in the bloodstream. This compound is needed to make the amino acids cysteine and taurine. Elevated serum homocysteine levels, however, are found in 20% to 40% of the population. Elevated homocysteine levels are believed to adversely affect healthy arteries and blood vessels. Patients with even slightly elevated homocysteine have only 1/3 the chance of maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system compared to those with normal homocysteine levels.6 Many people have mildly-elevated homocysteine levels that appear to be easily controlled with a diet high in folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12, or dietary supplements.
In one trial, 44 men with moderately elevated homocysteine levels were supplemented with 10 mg B6, 1,000 mcg folate and 300 mcg B12.3 Homocysteine levels were reduced to healthy levels in just six weeks.
In another trial, vitamin B6 alone was administered for six weeks.2 Homocysteine levels dropped to normal in over half the people. Six more weeks of B6, this time accompanied by folic acid supplementation, was given to those who had only partially responded to the previous trial of vitamin B6 alone. For those who had not responded at all to B6 supplements, folic acid was given alone for six weeks. Betaine was added if either of the second series of six-week trials failed. Success rate for the supplements was a startling 98%. In other words, only 2% of those people continued to have elevated homocysteine levels after adequate vitamin supplementation.
In yet another recent report, a group of 1,160 elderly adults was studied, revealing that homocysteine levels showed a strong correlation with blood and dietary folic acid content and dietary intake of vitamin B6.4 Thus, the higher the level of these vitamins, the lower the homocysteine level. A slightly weaker correlation existed with blood levels of a vitamin B6 and B12 combination, and homocysteine. The lowest (and probably healthiest) homocysteine level correlated with dietary intakes of folic acid and vitamin B6 that were well above the recommended daily allowance. This strongly suggests that the base RDA amounts are not high enough to protect against elevated homocysteine levels. An accompanying Journal of the American Medical Association editorial reported that the observations in this study support the raising of the RDA for folic acid.
None of these findings in any way detracts from the need for other health practices such as to quit smoking, reduce or eliminate red meat and dairy fat, increase dietary fiber, exercise regularly and take supplemental antioxidants—particularly vitamin E. Rather, control of homocysteine levels with supplements appears to be an important complement to a healthy lifestyle and diet.