LONDON (Reuters Health) Mar 06 – Elderly people need to boost the amount of folic acid they take by almost three times current recommended levels to minimise the risk of stroke, thrombosis and heart disease, according to new study findings.
The 3-year study, funded by the Wellcome Trust, involved 368 men and women between the ages of 65 and 75 years old from two general practices in Aberdeen in Scotland who were given folic tablets of varying strengths over a 6-week period.
Only those taking the highest level of folate, between 400 and 600 micrograms, recorded a drop in homocysteine levels, a marker for cardiovascular vascular disease.
Professor Michael Golden, who led the study, said the findings, published in the Quarterly Journal of Medicine, "suggest we could save lots of lives, improve the health and quality of life of many people and save the health service an awful lot of money."
Fellow researcher Dr. Ross Taylor, from the University of Aberdeen Medical School, said that Britain's Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy recommended an extra intake of 200 micrograms a day of folate for people over 50 year old, in addition to the 300 micrograms most people get in their diets.
"But we discovered it should be almost three times that amount to ensure 95% of the elderly were not at risk from high homocysteine, and therefore vascular disease," he said in a statement.
"This is not achievable for most people because of the amount of fruit and vegetables they would have to consume. So you would need to fortify food with folic acid and the best way is to add it to bread, biscuits, cakes, and breakfast cereals, which should not be expensive."
"If individuals were to take the extra folate in tablet form, again the cost would not be high, probably in the region of ?£10 a year per person," Dr. Taylor said. …