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Folic Acid May Help Reverse Thickening of Artery Walls

Heart disease is an affliction that develops over the course of one's life, and is hard to reverse once it has developed. However, a recent meta-analysis suggests that supplementation with folic acid - a form of vitamin B - may reduce carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) or thickening of artery walls.

The study was published in the June 2012 issue of Atherosclerosis. It was conducted by researchers at Anhui Medical University and Peking University First Hospital in China.

Ten clinical trials were included in the study, with a total of 2,052 participants. The researchers found that folic acid supplementation was associated with less hardening of the arterial walls and lower levels of homocysteine, a marker of heart disease.

The results were particularly notable in people with chronic kidney disease and those with a high risk of cardiovascular disease. However, no significant results were seen in people who had high homocysteine levels but were otherwise healthy.

Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, a water-soluble B vitamin. Folate plays an essential role in the necessary functions of the human body. It has been associated with nervous system function, red blood cell formation, and hormone function. Previous studies have also found a potential link between this vitamin and reductions in the risk of stroke, hearing loss and birth defects.

Our bodies do not naturally synthesize B vitamins. However, it is easy to increase your intake by eating more folate- rich foods. Some foods rich in folate include liver, eggs, beans, sunflower seeds, asparagus, leafy green vegetables, oranges, strawberries, cantaloupes, and other melons. Folic acid can be found in supplement form and as an additive in foods such as bread, cereal and grains.

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