B Vitamins May Enhance Heart Benefits of Omega-3s

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The newest power duo in the supplement world may be B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. A study from the journal Nutrients points to a possible synergistic effect between certain B vitamins and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) for cardiovascular health.

Study Details

Texas State University researchers conducted a meta-analysis involving 15 randomized controlled studies, showing that B vitamins (specifically, B6, folate, or B12) had next-to-no protection against cardiovascular diseases (CVD). However, five other trials revealed that folate — not B6 or B12 — helped lower the risk of CVD. The review also turned up 79 studies in which omega-3 PUFAs had very little, if any, impact on CVD prevention.

Medical investigators found that when combined, B vitamins and omega-3 PUFAs have some protective effect against CVD not seen in either taken separately. More research is needed, stressed the study authors.

B vitamins and DHA are interlinked in one-carbon unit metabolism. An animal study revealed that the addition of fish oil to a vitamin B6 insufficient diet may prevent the reduced synthesis of EPA and DHA. Likewise, insufficient folic acid in diet significantly reduced omega-3 PUFAs in plasma and platelets, compared to the rats fed with adequate folate. The possible explanation may be due to the enhanced hyperhomocysteinemia (Hcy) level induced by folate depletion, which, in turn, contributes to Hcy-associated oxidative stress with more PUFAs oxidized.”

Conclusion

“The limited evidence from intervention studies indicates that the combined supplementation with B vitamins and omega-3 PUFAs may be promising and more effective at reducing plasma Hcy, TG, and LDL-C than each supplementation alone. However, there is no solid evidence that the joint supplementation of these two can offer a synergistic effect on preventing CVD and decreasing the relevant morbidity and/or mortality in susceptible populations. Due to the methodological challenges and heterogeneity in study design of the existing trials, it is difficult to draw any definitive conclusions based on the current literature. Therefore, well-designed high-quality trials that will use the combined supplementation of B vitamins and omega-3 PUFAs or dietary patterns rich in these two types of nutrients are warranted.” 

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