Folate (Folic Acid), a B Vitamin, is required for several body processes including normal brain function, amino acid metabolism, blood cell formation and DNA synthesis, and for early development of a healthy child during pregnancy. Now researchers report that folic acid may help prevent the development of hypertension (high blood pressure) among both young and older women in the United States.
The researchers evaluated whether the dietary folate from food and vitamin supplements influenced the development of hypertension in 94,000 women followed for eight years. They found a decreased risk of hypertension with increased amounts of folate from food and supplements. Among yound women, a folate intake of 1,000 mcg or greater reduced the risk of developing hypertension by 45% compared to an intake of 200 mcg per day. For older women the risk was decreased by 18%.
The US Recommended Daily Value for folate is 400 mcg. Compared to a folate intake of 400 mcg, the results showed that a daily intake of 1,000 mcg reduced the risk of developing the hypertension by 40% in younger women and 13% in older women.
The researchers cited two small studies where high dose folic acid supplementation reduced blood pressure. Folate may be beneficial to the lining of our blood vessels, which are crucial for cardiovascular health.
Forman, JP and others. "Folate Intake and the Risks of Incident Hypertention Among US Women". JAMA, Jan. 19, 2005, Vol. 292(3) pgs 320-329.