Vitamin B does not help cardiovascular problems, study finds

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Vitamin b6, Folic acid, Vitamin, Myocardial infarction

Supplementation with B vitamins does not reduce risk of death or
major cardiovascular problems in people who suffer from coronary
artery disease, a new study suggests.

Researchers from Haukeland University Hospital, Norway, ran vitamin B trials to test the effectiveness of daily doses of either vitamin B12 and vitamin B6, and found there was no "significant difference" in risk of death with either. The results of the Western Norway B Vitamin Intervention Trial (WENBIT) point towards B-vitamin supplementation as being "unjustifiable" for secondary prevention in cardiovascular disease. A strategic analysis by Frost & Sullivan found the vitamin B market was worth €415m (£280m) in 2005. This is anticipated to grow to €901m (£607m) by 2012, equivalent to a compound annual growth (CAGR) of 11.7 per cent for the sector. The firm said growth was driven by health conscious consumers. WENBIT researchers used a total of 3,090 patients with angiographically verified (established) heart disease randomly allocated to four groups to receive a daily oral dose of either folate (with vitamin B12) and vitamin B6, folate (with vitamin B12), vitamin B6 or placebo. They hoped to see whether supplementation with vitamin B would reduce the risk of cardiovascular mortality and serious cardiovascular events among patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) Despite the decline in mortality from acute coronary syndromes in the Western world, CAD remains the most important cause of death in Norway. During a median follow-up time of 38 months, there were no significant differences in risk of death or major cardiovascular events between the intervention groups, they found. The participants were randomised when undergoing coronary angiography at Haukeland (Bergen) or Stavanger University Hospitals in Western Norway from 1999 to 2004. They were given one of the following four treatments: folic acid 0.8 mg plus vitamin B12 0.4 mg and vitamin B6 40 mg per day; folic acid 0.8 mg plus vitamin B12 0.4 mg per day; vitamin B6 40 mg per day; placebo. The groups did not differ significantly regarding age, gender, clinical, laboratory or angiographic findings, cardiovascular risk factors or concomitant medication. Study patients received conventional treatment, including acetylsalisylic acid), statins and beta-blockers. Mean age at randomisation was 61.8 years and 20.5 per cent of participants were women. The researchers said: "Mean homocysteine levels at baseline were 10.8 µmol/L. In the groups receiving folate, homocysteine was lowered by 28%, and remained unaltered in the non-folate groups. A total of 422 participants experienced at least one event classified as the composit primary end point, defined as death (all cause), non-fatal myocardial infarction, unstable angina pectoris or non-fatal thromboembolic stroke.​" The survival analyses calculating time to the first primary end point, revealed no significant differences between the groups receiving folate or not (p=0.35) or between the groups who received vitamin B6 or not (p=0.23). They concluded that: "Findings are in concordance with, and add further evidence to, previous trials that have failed to prove that homocysteine-lowering intervention with folate supplementation reduces risk of death or progression of cardiovascular disease in patients with established cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, there were no effects of vitamin B6 treatment. "At this time, B-vitamin supplementation is not justified as secondary prevention in cardiovascular disease."

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