Folic Acid May Prevent Hypertension in Addition to Reducing the Risk of Birth Defects

BOHEMIA, N.Y., Feb 24, 2005 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Folic acid, a B-vitamin that is necessary for proper cell growth and recognized for its ability to reduce the risk of birth defects, has been shown to have another significant health benefit for women: decreasing the incidence of hypertension. The importance of taking folic acid was elevated in 1992 when the United States Public Health Service recommended that all women of childbearing years should take 400 micrograms (0.4 mg) of folic acid daily to prevent having a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect. Today, new research is indicating that folic acid can also help prevent other birth defects, such as cleft lip and cleft palate. In addition, according to researchers from Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, higher folic acid intake from food and supplements appears to reduce the risk of high blood pressure. The study was published in the Jan. 19 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) (293, 3:320-9, 2005) (

The recommended dosage of folic acid can be obtained by eating a variety of foods as part of a healthy diet, including dark, leafy green vegetables, orange juice, strawberries, legumes and grains. Since sometimes it is hard to ensure getting the right amount of this nutrient in our daily diets, taking a dietary supplement such as Sundown(R) Folic Acid is the simplest way to ensure the daily recommended dosage is reached. It is available in 400 mcg and 800 mcg dosages -- making it easy for consumers to promote their health and wellness.

The many benefits associated with folic acid intake, including the recently published hypertension risk reduction study and the well-documented prevention of neural tube defects, are showing promise for women's health, but the widespread impact of low-carbohydrate diets may negate some of these benefits. For example, most low-carb diets eliminate foods, such as grains, rice and pastas, that are sources of B-vitamins. As a result, women might not be aware they are deficient in folic acid and at risk for birth defects while in their childbearing years. If one is devoted to a low-carb lifestyle, taking 400 mcg to 800 mcg of Sundown Folic Acid daily is recommended.

About the Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School Study

John P. Forman, M.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston and colleagues analyzed data from two studies (93,803 younger women aged 27 to 44 years in the Nurses' Health Study II [1991-1999] and 62,260 older women aged 43 to 70 years in the Nurses' Health Study I [1990- 1998]). The participants did not have a history of hypertension. Baseline information on dietary folate and supplemental folic acid intake was derived from food frequency questionnaires and was updated every four years for a total of eight years. The purpose of this study was to determine whether higher folic acid intake is associated with a lower risk of hypertension.

Results: The researchers found that younger women who consumed at least 1,000 micrograms per day of total folic acid (dietary plus supplemental) had a 46 percent decreased risk of hypertension, compared with those who consumed less than 200 micrograms a day of total folic acid. Older women with high total folic acid intake also had an 18 percent reduced risk of hypertension. In the study, researchers found that the women who only consumed folic acid from food, rather than supplements, had difficulty attaining high enough levels to lower their blood pressure.

As more studies unfold on folic acid, this essential B-vitamin is demonstrating healthy heart and circulation benefits by helping to maintain proper levels of homocysteine in the blood.* Women of all ages can promote their health and well-being by taking at least 400 micrograms of folic acid each day and by following the new 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans ( ) to ensure they are eating a variety of foods.

Visit to learn about Sundown Folic Acid in 400 mcg and 800 mcg dosages; and Sundown Folic Acid Xtra, which is enhanced with B-2, B-6, B-12 and choline.

About Rexall Sundown

Rexall Sundown, a trusted, long-standing name in the nutritional industry, is a subsidiary of NBTY, Inc. (NTY), a leading vertically integrated manufacturer and distributor of high-quality, value-priced nutritional supplements in the United States and throughout the world. The company markets approximately 1,500 products under several brands. Rexall Sundown has consistently been awarded the highest quality rating of its facilities by Shuster Laboratories, Inc., a leading independent quality compliance auditing firm used by pharmaceutical and supplement companies.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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