News | January 02, 2007

Study Shoots Down B12 Benefits

A review by physicians at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine shows that Vitamin B12 supplements are not effective in preventing strokes, heart attacks or death in people with a history of vascular disease. A New York Times article reports that Vitamin B12 reduces the blood levels of homocysteine, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but the reduction apparently has no effect on survival.

Doctors reviewed 12 studies comprising 16,598 patients who had pre-existing illness. All of the studies showed a reduction in homocysteine levels in people who took folate supplements, but there was no correlation between the amount of reduction in blood levels of homocysteine and the risk of heart attacks, coronary heart disease, stroke or mortality from any cause, and no difference between those who took folate supplements and the participants in control groups who took none.

“We haven’t found any magical supplement pills to prevent cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Lydia A. Bazzano in the Times article — she is the lead author of the review and an assistant professor of epidemiology at Tulane.

“The things people have to do are hard; they have to quit smoking, exercise, lose weight, eat properly,” Dr. Bazzano continued. “This means getting omega-3 fatty acids and a well-balanced diet in terms of carbohydrates and proteins. And eating fruits and vegetables is always good. No one has been able to contradict that yet.”

Published in the Dec. 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study covered only people who were already ill with vascular disease, but the authors wrote that no randomized, controlled trials have shown a beneficial effect of B12 supplements in preventing vascular disease in healthy people, either.

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