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Vitamin fails to save life

Tuesday October 12th, 2010

People who take folic acid supplements will not protect themselves against dying from heart disease or cancer, researchers reported last night.

More than 37,000 people have now taken part in studies of the vitamin supplements - and gained no protection at all against heart attack, stroke or cancer, according to the report in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The vitamins are commonly included in multi-vitamin supplements - but experts say the only people they may benefit are pregnant women, who need to take the vitamin.

The researchers led by Dr Robert Clarke, of Oxford University, UK, say the study also highlights that folic acid does not pose any risk to health.

This suggests that countries that fortify wheat with the vitamin - in order to protect babies against neural tube defects - are not causing any risk.

They write: "One-third of adults in the United States and one-quarter of those in the United Kingdom report taking daily multivitamin supplements containing folic acid."

Ellen Mason, a nurse specialist with the British Heart Foundation - which helped finance the research - said: "Folic acid remains a must for women trying to conceive and in their first trimester because it reduces the chance of a neural tube defect such as spina bifida. But this study concludes the supplement does not protect against heart and circulatory disease.

"People should continue to get vitamins and minerals from a healthy balanced diet unless they’re advised to take supplements by their doctor or registered dietician."

Effects of Lowering Homocysteine Levels With B Vitamins on Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, and Cause-Specific Mortality. Robert Clarke, Jim Halsey, Sarah Lewington, Eva Lonn, Jane Armitage, JoAnn E. Manson, Kaare H. Box, J. David Spence, Ottar Nyga, Rex Jamison, J. Michael Gaziano, Peter Guarino, Derrick Bennett, Fraz Mir, Richard Peto and Rory Collins. Archives of Internal Medicine 170, 18, October 11 2010.

Tags: Cancer | Childbirth and Pregnancy | Diet & Food | Heart Health | UK News | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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