08 October 2009
By Neharika Sabharwal
The accepted hypothesis is that B vitamins – folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6– guard against homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood. Elevated levels of homocysteine pose a potential risk factor for heart disease.
Hence, the natural course to ward off a heart attack would be to take the vitamins as supplements to curtail the homocysteine levels.
However, the researcher found no scientific evidence to establish that regulation of homocysteine levels could cut the risk of heart disease.
“There is no evidence to support the use of Vitamin B as supplements for reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke or death associated with cardiovascular disease,” said lead researcher Arturo Mart–Carvajal of the Iberoamerican Cochrane Network in Valencia, Venezuela.
The Cochrane Systematic Review of eight trials
The researchers reviewed eight trials involving a total of 24,210 people. The patients were given the vitamin supplements or placebos.
Although the patients taking vitamin supplements should have exhibited improvements, they had the same number of heart attacks, strokes and deaths as the patients taking placebos.
“We found no evidence that homocysteine–lowering interventions, in the form of supplements of vitamins B6, B9 or B12 given alone or in combination, at any dosage compared with placebo or standard care, prevents myocardial infarction [Also called heart attack, occurs when one of more regions of the heart muscle experience a severe or prolonged decrease in oxygen supply caused by a blocked blood flow to the heart muscle.] , stroke, or reduces total mortality in participants at risk or with established cardiovascular disease,” the authors wrote.
The findings of the study lead to the unmistakable conclusion that B–vitamin therapy is not beneficial in preventing heart problems.
Further studies in progress for concrete conclusions
According to researchers, three more trials were in progress that could bolster and defy the current findings.
Mart–Carvajal said, “Prescription of these supplements cannot be justified, unless new evidence from large high quality trials alters our conclusions.”
“It is important to point out that although we may have not found a positive effect, these kinds of studies are vitally important for determining the factors that influence the risk of developing and dying from this disease, which is the number one cause of death in the world today,” Mart–Carvajal further added.