Study: Folate can lower blood pressure

The following is the text version of a "Health News Brief" from National Public Radio's roundup, dated January 18, 2005.  To read the entire roundup, go to www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4457811 

A new study released today by the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that women who take large amounts of the vitamin folate can significantly reduce their risk of developing high blood pressure.

Folate is found naturally in foods such as leafy green vegetables and beans. And in recents years, manufacturers have added it to cereal and breads as part of a public health effort to prevent birth defects.

But the study released today found that taking a full 1,000 micrograms (mcg) of folate in the form of a supplement helped young women decrease their risk of high blood pressure by 46 percent.

The women who benefitted most from the supplement ranged in age from 27 to 44 years old. Women in the study aged 43 to 70 reduced their risk of hypertension, too, but at a much smaller rate of 18 percent. The results are part of the Nurses Health Study, which has followed the health more than 150,000 women for many years.

Even though it's a large study, researchers say more study is needed before women can be advised to starting taking more of the vitamin. -- Allison Aubrey

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