We often hear about B vitamins, we know they’re the “stress vitamins” because they’re depleted in time of stress—but we don’t hear often enough how important they are to your heart. In fact, I was one of the first cardiologists to get the word out about this critical connection.
The reason B-vitamins are critical is because they help to bring down high homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an ugly amino acid that causes your body to lay down sticky, artery-hardening platelets in blood vessels. It results from your body's ineffective break-down of methionine, an essential amino acid found in all proteins but in greater amounts in animal proteins. Meat, eggs, milk, and cheese have two to three times the methionine that grains and vegetables do.
Some homocysteine is fine; your body is equipped to handle it. But an excess is like having a silent, asymptomatic killer lurking in your bloodstream.
What can you do to keep homocysteine from ganging up on you? Data from such large and respected trials as the Nurses' Health Study and the Harvard Physicians' Study have shown that daily consumption of these three key dietary vitamins neutralizes high levels of homocysteine:
- 3 mg vitamin B6
- 400 mcg folic acid
- 5–10 mcg vitamin B12
Unfortunately, the average dietary intake of B6 is estimated to be in the range of 1.5 mg per day, and most of us get only 250 mcg folic acid on a regular basis. B12 levels are usually low, too. So, it’s critical to get these nutrients in supplement form.
Now it's your turn: Do you take B vitamins?
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