High Dosage B-Complex supplementation slows the progression of cardiovascular disease in patients with elevated homocysteine

January 07, 2009

Researchers from the University of Southern California have published the results from the B-Vitamin Atherosclerosis Intervention Trial (BVAIT). A high dose B-Complex supplement slows down the progression of hardening of the arteries in patients with elevated homocysteine. Homocysteine is a by product of incomplete protein metabolism that harms blood vessel walls contributing to heart disease and a number of B-complex vitamins regulate its concentration.
The researchers placed 506 men and postmenopausal women without cardiovascular disease who had an initial total homocysteine level toward the high range 5 mg folic acid, 50 mg vitamin B6 and 400 mcg vitamin B12 or a placebo daily for an average of 3 years. Atherosclerosis was assessed via evaluation of carotid artery intima media thickness (CIMT), and homocysteine levels were measured, upon enrollment and every six months.
Homocysteine levels decreased in subjects who received B vitamins, while an increase occurred in the placebo group. Post methionine loading homocysteine levels were found to be associated with carotid intima media thickness progression (worsening thickening of the lining of the carotid arteries). When the entire group was considered, a mild reduction in the rate of the progression in carotid artery intima media thickness was associated with B vitamin supplementation.

However, among participants whose homocysteine levels at the beginning of the study were at least 9.1 micromoles per liter, those in the placebo group had twice the rate of carotid artery intima media thickness progression than that observed among those who received B vitamins. The study is published online ahead of print in the December 31, 2008 issue of the journal Stroke.