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Effects of folic acid and combinations of folic acid and vitamin B-12 on plasma homocysteine concentrations in healthy, young women. *

BACKGROUND: Elevated plasma homocysteine concentrations are considered to be a risk factor for vascular disease and fetal malformations such as neural tube defects. Recent studies have shown that plasma homocysteine can be lowered by folic acid in amounts corresponding to 1- 2 times the recommended dietary allowance. Preliminary evidence indicates that vitamin B-12 may be beneficial when included in supplements or in a food-fortification regimen together with folic acid.

OBJECTIVE: We aimed to compare the homocysteine-lowering potential of a folic acid supplement with that of 2 supplements containing different doses of vitamin B-12 in addition to folic acid.

DESIGN: Female volunteers of childbearing age (n = 150) received a placebo for 4 wk followed by a 4-wk treatment with either 400 microg folic acid, 400 microg folic acid + 6 microg vitamin B-12, or 400 microg folic acid + 400 microg vitamin B-12.

RESULTS: Significant reductions (P < 0.001) in plasma homocysteine were observed in all groups receiving vitamin treatment. The effect observed with the combination of folic acid + 400 microg vitamin B-12 (total homocysteine, -18%) was significantly larger than that with a supplement containing folic acid alone (total homocysteine, -11%) (P < 0.05). Folic acid in combination with a low vitamin B-12 dose (6 microg) affected homocysteine as well (-15%).

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that the addition of vitamin B-12 to folic acid supplements or enriched foods maximizes the reduction of homocysteine and may thus increase the benefits of the proposed measures in the prevention of vascular disease and neural tube defects.

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As with any procedure, there could be pain or other substantial risks involved. These concerns should be discussed with your health care provider prior to any treatment so that you have proper informed consent and understand that there are no guarantees to healing.

THE INFORMATION IN THIS WEBSITE IS OFFERED FOR GENERAL EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT IMPLY OR GIVE MEDICAL ADVICE. No Doctor/Patient relationship shall be deemed to have arisen simply by reading the information contained on these pages, and you should consult with your personal physician/care giver regarding your medical treatment before undergoing any sort of treatment or therapy.

Published on 09-06-2006