Vit. B fortified foods improves public health

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Heart disease, Folic acid

According to a new report, fortifying foods with B vitamins and
giving additional supplements to people with heart disease, and
those at risk, could save lives and money.

According to a new report, fortifying foods with B vitamins and giving additional supplements to people with heart disease, and those at risk, could save lives and money. People with high blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine experience more heart attacks and death from heart disease, lead author Dr. Jeffrey A. Tice from the University of California, San Francisco, told Reuters Health. And giving patients inexpensive and safe therapy with the B vitamins folic acid and cyanocobalamin can lower homocysteine levels, he explained. Tice's team built a computer model to estimate the benefit of fortifying bread and cereal with folic acid, along with any additional benefits from taking supplements of folic acid and cyanocobalamin, in preventing heart disease. Their findings are published in the August 22/29 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association. According to the model, grain fortification, which the Food and Drug Administration has required since January 1998, could cut the number of heart attacks and other heart disease events by 8 per cent in women and 13 per cent in men over a period of 10 years, with similar reductions in deaths from heart disease. In addition, if patients with known heart disease took vitamins containing 1 milligram (mg) of folic acid and 0.5 mg of cyanocobalamin, according to Tice and his colleagues, about 310,000 fewer people would die from heart disease over a 10-year period compared with grain fortification alone. According to the researchers, supplements could also help certain groups of people with no known heart disease. "Many lives could be saved. In people with heart disease and men 45 years and older without known heart disease, vitamin therapy would save money,"​ Tice told Reuters Health. "In women 55 years and older without heart disease, the cost would be low compared with other therapies currently used in medicine,"​ he added. Tice also noted that "the evidence for the beneficial effects of vitamin therapy to lower homocysteine is much stronger than that for other dietary supplements promoted for heart disease prevention like garlic and vitamin E."​ Vitamin B-12 (cyanocobalamin) is found in meat, fish, poultry and fortified milk and breakfast cereals. Folate or folic acid is found in many fruits and vegetables and in fortified foods.

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