It was widely believed that dietary intake of B vitamins (folate and
vitaminB-6) and omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids
would benefit cardiac patients by preventing further heart disease. A large number of observational studies supported this belief.
Dietary supplementation with folic acid and vitamin B-12 typically lowers the levels of homocysteine
in the body. High levels of homocysteine are associated with higher risks of coronary heart disease and stroke
. This fact raises the prospect that dietary supplementation with B vitamins might reduce the risk of these diseases. Omega 3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids necessary for human health. Fish and other seafood are rich sources
A randomised, placebo controlled trial was performed to know if dietary supplementations of these nutrients would
benefit heart patients. The trial was done with the involvement of a network of 417 cardiologists, neurologists, and other physicians. Participants included 2501 patients with a history of heart diseases like myocardial infarction (heart attack), unstable angina, or ischaemic stroke. Daily dietary supplements of B vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids were provided. Median duration of supplementation was 4.7 years. Results were published in the British Medical Journal recently.
B vitamins were found to lower the blood levels of homocysteine by 19% compared with placebo. Dietary omega 3 fatty acids succeeded in raising the blood levels of omega 3 fatty acids by 37% compared with placebo. Neither of them had any significant effect on major vascular events.
The results of the study do not support routine use of dietary supplements containing B vitamins or omega 3fatty acids for prevention of cardiovascular disease in people with a history of ischaemic heart disease or ischaemic stroke, at least when supplementation is introduced after the acute phase of the initial event.
British Medical Journal