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Author: Jean Carper
Source: Stop Aging Now!

Unsuspected Heart Guardian: The right amount of folic acid in your blood can go a long way to squashing your vulnerability to cardiovascular disease. The reason: Elevated levels of a blood protein, homocysteine, are now considered a major risk factor for heart disease-as significant as or perhaps even more significant than cholesterol. High blood homocysteine triples your chances of heart disease.

The three B vitamins, but particularly folic acid, spur enzymes to metabolize homocysteine, keeping it in check. If B vitamins are lacking, it soars to hazardous levels, leading to blocked arteries. According to a 1995 Tufts study of 1,041 men and women, ages sixty-seven to ninety-six, those with the highest homocysteine were twice as apt to have narrowed neck arteries determined by ultrasound as those with the least homocysteine. Amazing, but true: Benign doses of B vitamins rapidly whisk homocysteine right out of your system.

The vitamins deliver a kind of one, two, three punch against homocysteine. Of the three, folic acid is most powerful, followed by B6 and B12. According to Tufts research, if you get less than 350 micrograms of folic acid daily, you are apt to have high homocysteine. One study of elderly people found that those getting little folic acid (200 micrograms daily) were six times more likely to have dangerously high homocysteine than those getting more folic acid (400 micrograms daily).

THE ALARMING FACTS

The average American over age fifty is woefully deficient in folic acid-taking in a mere 235 micrograms of folic acid daily-far too little to curb homocysteine or prevent cervical cancer.

The less folic acid in your blood, the more your arteries are apt to be narrowed and, clogged, according to Tufts research. 

Smokers need three times more folic acid (at least 600 micrograms daily) to achieve the same blood levels as nonsmokers.