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Folate and B6 May Reduce Death from Stroke and Heart Disease

B vitamins such as folate and B6 may reduce the risk of death due to heart problems and stroke, according to researchers at Osaka University in Japan.

Their findings were published in the April 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The researchers analyzed data on 23,119 men and 35,611 women between 40 and 79 years of age that took part in the Japan Collaborative Cohort study.

The participants completed questionnaires about their dietary habits during 14 years of follow-up. During that time 986 of the participants died from stroke and 424 died from heart disease.

When the researchers compared participants with the highest intake of folate and B6 to those with the lowest they found a significantly lower number of deaths from heart failure in men. They also found significantly fewer deaths from stroke and heart disease in women.

The researchers believe that folate and B6 may fight cardiovascular disease by lowering homocysteine levels. High homocysteine levels are believed to cause damage to the inner linings of arteries, promoting blood clots.

B vitamins play a very important role in many essential functions in the human body including nervous system function, red blood cell formation, and hormone function. They are also linked to reducing the risk of depression, hearing loss and birth defects.

Our bodies do not naturally synthesize the vitamin so the only way to get our B vitamins is from dietary sources.

B vitamins like B6 and folate are found naturally through a variety of foods including leafy green vegetables, dried beans, lentils and peas.

The man-made version of folate is called folic acid and it can be found in supplement form and as an additive in foods like bread, cereal and grains.

Be sure to cook your foods correctly to get the optimum amount of B vitamins; for instance, steaming instead of boiling vegetables is always best.

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