CRN Responds to Large Vitamin B12 Study

September 17, 2010

A large-scale study on how homocysteine levels are influenced by folic acid and vitamin B12 may have hit the wrong target, according to some industry members.

A large-scale study on how homocysteine levels are influenced by folic acid and vitamin B12 may have hit the wrong target, according to some industry members.

The study published in the June 23/30 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association tested the effects of 2 mg of folic acid and 1 mg of vitamin B12 or placebo on 12,064 subjects in the United Kingdom from 1998 to 2008. Patient homocysteine levels were measured (higher levels are believed to indicate higher cardiac risks) and patients who supplemented with folic acid and vitamin B12 were found to have a mean homocysteine reduction of 28%.

However, the study...s authors found that supplementation did not significantly affect vascular outcomes (e.g. vascular deaths, incidences of cancer, nonvascular deaths, etc.) of patients.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN; Washington, D.C.) has responded to the study, highlighting concern with the study...s direction.

'The concern with this study is that it focused on treating individuals who have already had a heart attack,' says Duffy MacKay, ND, CRN vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs. 'It didn...t answer the question of whether a B vitamin'”taken over time and in combination with other healthy lifestyle habits'”could have helped prevent cardiovascular disease before it occurred at all. We may need to re-evaluate expectations when designing studies on nutrients used to treat serious chronic disease because it is unrealistic to expect a vitamin to undo a lifetime of unhealthy behaviors.'

CRN stresses the importance of investigating how homocysteine levels may be a valid biomarker for heart disease in healthy humans.

To read the study abstract, click here.