Increase Folic Acid to Decrease Hypertension Risk

Health Professional

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in every three adults in the United States have hypertension (high blood pressure), but only about 50% of those with hypertension have it under control.

A study published April 2012 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found folic acid intake to impact the development of hypertension.

Study participants included 4400 individuals between the ages of 18 - 30 years-old without high blood pressure. Over the following twenty years participant blood pressure was evaluated six times. Participants also completed three dietary history questionnaires. One questionnaire was completed at the start of the study, a second during the study, and the third and final dietary questionnaire at the study conclusion (20 years).

During the 20 year period, 989 individuals developed hypertension. Individuals consuming diets with the highest folate levels were 52% less likely to develop high blood pressure compared to those with the lowest folic acid intake.

Serum folate measurements during the study confirmed the correlation between folic acid and high blood pressure development.

Some food sources of folate include:

Brewer's yeast

Rice germ

Wheat germ

Beef liver

Bran

Beans (kidney, lima, mung, navy, garbanzo)

Asparagus

Walnuts

Kale

Broccoli

Split peas

Black eyed peas

Peanut butter

A folate deficiency can be cause by numerous factors, such as alcohol, birth control pills, corticosteroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and hydrochlorothiazide. Some folate deficiency symptoms may include birth defects, depression, increased risk of infection, drowsiness, graying hair, insomnia, irritability, and slow or weakened pulse.

It's currently recommended to consume up to 400 micrograms of folate daily. Folate is a B vitamin, which means it is water soluble and leaves the body quickly. Therefore, your diet needs to include sources of folate throughout the day. High doses of folate should only be used under a physician's care.

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