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Folic Acid Supplements May Help Reduce Risk of Heat-Related Cardiovascular Events

As we age, it becomes more difficult for our bodies to increase skin blood flow in the heat, which puts us at a higher risk for strokes and heart attacks when it’s hot out. A recent study suggests that taking folic acid supplements could help lower the risk of heat-induced cardiovascular events in mature adults by increasing vasodilation.


Participants in the two-part study included 11 healthy adults with an average age of 71 and 11 adults with an average age of 22.  For the first part of the study, the researchers examined the impact of localized heat treatment and local delivery of 5 mM of the folic acid metabolite 5-MTHF to blood vessels in the skin when compared with a placebo.


For the second part of the study, the researchers heated the participant’s bodies using a water-perfused suit, which covered the entire body apart from the head, hands, and forearms. Before the heat test, the participants took either a five milligram supplement of folic acid or a placebo once daily for  six weeks.


In the first part of the study, the researchers found that both the folic acid supplements and locally administered 5-MTF improved cutaneous vasodilation (skin blood flow) in the older group but not the younger group.


In the second part, they found that the older folic acid group had increases in nitric oxide-dependent vasodilation but that the younger ones did not.


Researchers from Pennsylvania States University conducted the study. It was published on March 9, 2015, in Clinical Science.


Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, a water-soluble B vitamin. Folate plays an essential role in many of 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 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, such as liver, eggs, beans, sunflower seeds, asparagus, leafy green vegetables, oranges, strawberries, cantaloupes, and other melons.

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