Taking a folic acid supplement could be a “wise move for all adults in the UK”, the Health & Food Supplements Information Service (HSIS) has said in response to further evidence suggesting this can reduce the risk of stroke by lowering levels of homocysteine in the blood.
The HSIS statement was in response to a study due to be published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that followed 10,789 Chinese men and women with high blood pressure for 4.2 years.
The researchers found that for individuals with a low blood platelet count and high levels of homocysteine, taking both folic acid and enalapril led to a 73% reduction in the risk of first stroke compared to just taking enalapril daily (from a 5.6% risk to a 1.8% risk). Over the study period, 210 first strokes occurred in the enalapril-folic acid group.
Dr Gill Jenkins, a GP and advisor to the Heath & Food Supplements Information Service (HSIS), said: “Folic acid is an essential B vitamin which is required for making red blood cells and the synthesis and repair of DNA and RNA. Folic acid is also capable of lowering homocysteine levels in the blood. This is important because high levels of homocysteine are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including stroke. Several large controlled trial and meta-analyses have shown that folic acid supplementation can reduce the risk of stroke.”