New UF study shows value of folate for older women

May 21, 2000

In a new study, the first ever to measure the amount of folate needed by older women, University of Florida nutritionists say consuming folate-rich foods daily can benefit women well into their golden years.

"For the past decade, women of childbearing age have been encouraged to take extra folic acid to reduce the risk of birth defects," said Lynn Bailey, professor of human nutrition with UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. "Our study provides evidence that folate also plays a role in reducing a risk factor for heart disease in older women."

Results of the UF study will be published in the June issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

"Many of today's baby boomers are not aware of which foods contain this water-soluble vitamin and the potential health benefits of folate," said Bailey, who co-directed the study.

In the 14-week study, 33 postmenopausal women ages 63 to 85 consumed a folate-rich diet, consisting of orange juice and foods fortified with folic acid, containing the daily 400 microgram recommended intake for folate. The conclusion shows these folate foods significantly decreased levels of homocysteine, a risk factor for heart disease -- the No. 1 killer of postmenopausal women.

"Since the 400-microgram recommendation for folate was based on studies of younger women, we estimated the amount of folate needed for elderly women, largely because of growing research suggesting adequate folate may be associated with a lowered risk for chronic disease," said Bailey, who has conducted folate research for the past 22 years.

A recent report based on a survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates folate intakes need to be improved in select groups of women in the U.S. population. But obtaining sufficient quantities of folate is easy, according to Gail Kauwell, UF associate professor of human nutrition who also co-directed the study.

"Food sources containing natural folate include orange juice, the most popular source of natural folate in the American diet, as well as dark green leafy vegetables, strawberries, peanuts, beans and legumes," Kauwell said.

Since 1998, the Food and Drug Administration has required certain foods to be fortified with folic acid, including bread, cereal, pasta, flour, crackers and rice.

While fortified foods and folic acid supplements are recommended for women of reproductive age, Bailey advises women of all ages to include foods naturally high in folate in their diet.

"Foods naturally containing folate also provide many other nutrients women need, playing a crucial role in a healthy diet," Bailey said. "For example, along with being a good source of folate, orange juice also offers vitamin C, potassium, and phytochemicals also linked to better health."

Janet Helm, a Chicago-based nutritionist and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association said folate has consistently been one of the problem nutrients in the American diet. "With this new UF study, there's even more reason to focus on getting more folate from food," she said.
Gail Kauwell 352-392-1991 ext. 227,
Janet Helm 312-988-2343,


University of Florida

Related Heart Disease Articles from Brightsurf:

Cellular pathway of genetic heart disease similar to neurodegenerative disease
Research on a genetic heart disease has uncovered a new and unexpected mechanism for heart failure.

Mechanism linking gum disease to heart disease, other inflammatory conditions discovered
The link between periodontal (gum) disease and other inflammatory conditions such as heart disease and diabetes has long been established, but the mechanism behind that association has, until now, remained a mystery.

New 'atlas' of human heart cells first step toward precision treatments for heart disease
Scientists have for the first time documented all of the different cell types and genes expressed in the healthy human heart, in research published in the journal Nature.

With a heavy heart: How men and women develop heart disease differently
A new study by researchers from McGill University has uncovered that minerals causing aortic heart valve blockage in men and women are different, a discovery that could change how heart disease is diagnosed and treated.

Heart-healthy diets are naturally low in dietary cholesterol and can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
Eating a heart-healthy dietary pattern rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, vegetable oils and nuts, which is also limits salt, red and processed meats, refined-carbohydrates and added sugars, is relatively low in dietary cholesterol and supports healthy levels of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol.

Pacemakers can improve heart function in patients with chemotherapy-induced heart disease
Research has shown that treating chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy with commercially available cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) delivered through a surgically implanted defibrillator or pacemaker can significantly improve patient outcomes.

Arsenic in drinking water may change heart structure raising risk of heart disease
Drinking water that is contaminated with arsenic may lead to thickening of the heart's main pumping chamber in young adults, according to a new study by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

New health calculator can help predict heart disease risk, estimate heart age
A new online health calculator can help people determine their risk of heart disease, as well as their heart age, accounting for sociodemographic factors such as ethnicity, sense of belonging and education, as well as health status and lifestyle behaviors.

Wide variation in rate of death between VA hospitals for patients with heart disease, heart failure
Death rates for veterans with ischemic heart disease and chronic heart failure varied widely across the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system from 2010 to 2014, which could suggest differences in the quality of cardiovascular health care provided by VA medical centers.

Heart failure: The Alzheimer's disease of the heart?
Similar to how protein clumps build up in the brain in people with some neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, protein clumps appear to accumulate in the diseased hearts of mice and people with heart failure, according to a team led by Johns Hopkins University researchers.

Read More: Heart Disease News and Heart Disease Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to