|Life Extension Update Exclusive
Increased folate lowers blood pressure in women
In a study presented at the American Heart Association's 58th Annual High Blood Pressure Research Conference on October 11 2004, it was found that younger women whose intake of the B vitamin folate is high have a reduced risk of hypertension compared to those whose intake is low. Hypertension risk in older women was also, to a lesser extent, reduced by increased folate.
Research fellow at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, John P. Forman, MD, and colleagues utilized data from the Nurses Health Study I, which included women aged 43 to 70, and the Nurses Health Study II, which involved women ages 26 to 46. Food frequency questionnaires completed at the beginning of the study and every four years were analyzed to determine the dietary and supplementary folate intake of the 150,000 participants. Blood pressure information was reported on questionnaires every two years.
It was found that among women aged 26 to 46 whose dietary and supplemental folate intake was in the top fifth at over 800 micrograms per day there was a 29 per lower risk of hypertension than those whose intake was in the lowest one-fifth, at 200 micrograms per day. Women in the top fifth of the older group experienced a risk of hypertension that was 13 percent lower.
When women whose intake of folate from diet alone was 200 micrograms or less were studied separately, those in the younger group who were taking 800 micrograms supplemental folic acid per day had a 48 percent reduction in hypertension risk compared to those who did not take folic acid, and women in the older group experienced a 40 percent reduction.
Because folate reduces homocysteine levels, it may help prevent damage to blood vessels that can lead to hypertension. The vitamin may also help relax the vessels, according to Dr Forman.
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is the primary and most important manifesting symptom of hypertensive vascular disease. A diseased vasculature predisposes one to further hypertension, and thus, further vascular disease. Hypertension often progresses with the development of various diseases involving the circulatory system, such as arteriosclerosis, atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, and disorders of coagulation (stroke, hemorrhage, heart attack), immunity (inflammation, infection), and diabetes. All of these disorders are both causative and secondary to the development of hypertension.
The DASH study (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) clearly indicates a strong dietary role for adequate potassium, calcium, and magnesium, as derived from natural diets, as beneficial to cardiovascular diseases (Appel et al. 1997). Oral potassium supplements lower blood pressure (Whelton et al. 1997). The mechanism of action of potassium may include natriuresis, reduced renin release, antagonism of the pressor effects of angiotensin II, direct vasodilation, enhanced endothelial-dependent vasodilation, decreased vasoconstrictive thromboxanes, and increased vasodilatory kallidin (Morris and Sebastian 1995).
- Avoid sodium (salt) intake. One-third to one-half of the people with hypertension are significantly benefited by lowering salt intake. Many respond better to their medications when on a low salt diet. Avoid foods containing salt like potato chips, salted nuts and seeds, ham, and other mostly canned prepared foods. Too much salt is typically added to many foods and menu items.
- Take coenzyme Q10, 200 to 300 mg per day to lower blood pressure, prevent oxidation, and stabilize cellular membranes.
- Take essential fatty acids, especially GLA and DHA, ideally in a 2:1 ratio. We recommend three Super GLA/DHA caps (GLA 460 mg, DHA 500 mg, EPA 200 mg) along with one Mega EPA/DHA (EPA 360 mg, DHA 240 mg).
- Take vitamin E, 200-400 IU, as a mixture of gamma and alpha-tocopherols and tocotrienols to prevent peroxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
- Take vitamin C, 2000 mg, three times a day as an antioxidant.
- Take potassium, through the use of No-Salt or Lite-Salt, and confer with your doctor. (The DASH diet recommends 500 mg per day.)
- Take arginine in doses of 4500 mg, three times per day.
- Take Super MiraForte to effectively increase free testosterone levels, thus lowering blood pressure. One to two capsules per day.
Secondary Nutritional Approaches
- Take magnesium, 500 to 1500 mg per day (DASH diet).
- Take calcium, 1000 elemental mg per day (DASH diet).
- Take low-dose aspirin, 1/4 aspirin tablet every day with the heaviest meal of the day, to reduce possible cardiovascular complications associated with hypertension.
- Consider taking garlic, 1500 to 6000 mg per day, though garlic is probably more effective for other established cardiovascular diseases.
- Consider nutrients that lower homocysteine levels, such as folic acid, B6, B12, and trimethylglycine (if your homocysteine levels are over 7 micromoles/Liter, to prevent endothelial cell damage).