Low Vitamin B6 May Increase Cardiovascular Disease Risk

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Vitamin B6 plays an important role in cardiovascular disease, the number one killer in the United States and around the world. A new study shows that low levels of vitamin B6 may increase the risk of inflammation and metabolic conditions, which subsequently raise the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular disease is a worldwide epidemic, and a largely preventable one. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that every 25 seconds an American has a coronary event, and that every minute someone dies of such an event. At a recent European parliament MEP heart group meeting in Brussels, experts warned that cardiovascular disease was the EU’s leading cause of death, with at least one scientist, Professor Simon Capewell of Liverpool University, noting that “Our diet is a catastrophe for cardiovascular disease.”

One element of diet is vitamin B6, which researchers from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University evaluated recently. In a study of 1,205 people, they found that higher levels of the active form of vitamin B6 (pyridoxal-5’-phosphate, or PLP) were associated with lower levels of C-reactive protein, which is an indicator of inflammation. Elevated levels of C-reactive protein are a good predictor for the onset of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

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The vitamin was also linked to lower levels of 8-hydroxy-2’-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG), a marker for oxidative stress, which is also related to heart disease risk. Oxidative stress is a condition in which there is an excess of free radicals, molecules that can damage cells, and that are typically associated with cardiovascular disease.

Previous research has shown that vitamin B6 has a role in reducing the levels of homocysteine, an amino acid which, at elevated levels, is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. A previous study from Harvard University also showed that PLP may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by 50 percent.

The results of the Tufts University suggest vitamin B6 (PLP) may play an important role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease in ways other than impacting homocysteine levels. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin B6 is 1.3 to 1.7 milligrams, which people can achieve if they eat a varied, nutritious diet that includes excellent to very good food sources of the vitamin, including spinach, bell peppers, turnip greens, garlic, kale, tuna, cauliflower, bananas, broccoli, and cod, among other foods.

SOURCES:
American Heart Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Le Marchand L et al. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention 2009 Aug; 18(8): 2195-201
Shen J et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2010 Feb; 91(2): 337-42

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