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Getting too Little of This Vitamin May Jeopardize Your Heart Health

If you don't get enough vitamin B6 in your diet you may be putting yourself at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

This was the conclusion of a study conducted by researchers from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and published in the February 2010 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Vitamin B6 plays an important role in many essential functions in the human body including nervous system function, red blood cell formation, and hormone function. Our bodies do not naturally synthesize the vitamin so the only way to get our B vitamins is from dietary sources.

The researchers recruited 1,205 adults living in Massachusetts for the study. The participants were aged between 45 and 75 years.

When the researchers measured blood levels of vitamin B6, they found that individuals with the highest blood levels had 50% lower levels of a marker for inflammation known as C-reactive protein (CRP.)

They also found a reduction in markers for oxidative stress. High levels of inflammation and oxidative stress in the body are directly associated with significant increases in cardiovascular disease risk.

Beyond their cardiovascular potential, B vitamins have also been shown to promote cell growth, support metabolism and lower the risk of Alzheimer's.

Being deficient in these important vitamins can potentially lead to brain shrinkage, high homocysteine levels and birth defects.

You can get more of these essential vitamins through supplementation or by eating more vitamin B rich foods. Some foods rich in B vitamins include broccoli, asparagus, potatoes, tuna and salmon. Many milk and flour products are also fortified with B vitamins.

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