An easy way to reduce heart disease

Lowering your cholesterol may not be the only dietary thing you can do to reduce your chances of heart disease. A study published in a recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine has demonstrated that an increase in folic acid may also reduce the incidence of heart disease. The folic acid reduces high blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid formed as a byproduct of protein digestion. A growing body of research is showing that homocysteine can be a major factor in heart disease.

The Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. recently mandated that breakfast cereals be fortified with 140 micrograms (0.14 mg) of folic acid per 100 grams of cereal-grain products. The new study argues that this level should be much higher. Since folic acid fortification of cereal is optional in Canada, a daily multivitamin could be your easiest way of reducing homocysteine levels. Many multivitamins contain the 400 microgram (0.4 mg) intake recommended in the U.S. study.

According to Dr. Lance Levy, Director of the Nutritional and Eating Disorders Clinic in Toronto, the new study adds support to the argument that doubling the current recommended nutritional intake guidelines iCanada for folic acid would help ensure lower incidence of coronary artery disease.

"The report supports what I have been recommending for years,” says Dr. Levy. "I have always stressed the importance of a balanced diet but, pragmatically speaking, people don’t normally achieve a balanced diet. Considering this, adding a daily multivitamin containing folic acid can be an important step in disease prevention.”