Could vitamins help you avoid diabetes, heart disease? Here's what a Texas State researcher found
Could vitamins like B6, B12 and folate be a key to reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes?
Dr. Jie Zhu, an assistant professor at Texas State University in nutrition in food, found an association between an increased amount of these vitamins and a reduction in metabolic syndrome.
The study was published by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
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What is metabolic syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is marked by a group of conditions that can include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excessive fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.
Metabolic syndrome puts people at an increased risk for diabetes and heart disease, including stroke and heart attack.
How did researchers find an association between vitamins and metabolic syndrome?
The research studied 4,414 U.S. adults who were studied from 1985 to 2016. The study participants were in their 20s at the time they were enrolled and have now reached middle-age. About half were white and half were Black; half were women and half were men. No Latinx or Asian Americans were enrolled.
The diet of the participants was studied by the participants answering a questionnaire. Researchers also took blood samples from some of the patients to validate that the participants were telling the truth about their diets.
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Why is it only an association?
This isn't the type of study in which there is a scientific delivery of vitamins or a controlled group. The researchers also didn't include Latinx and Asian American people in the people studied. More research would need to be done to show a cause and effect relationship.
What do these vitamins do?
Micronutrients like these supply molecules that are used in enzyme function, Zhu said. "They facilitate the reactions involving the metabolism," he said.
Where are these vitamins found?
Folate: Dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, citrus fruits, melons, strawberries, bananas, papaya, beets, avocado, peas, chickpeas and kidney beans, nuts and seeds, and liver.
B6: Poultry, pork, tuna and salmon, carrots, potatoes, bananas, dairy products such as milk and cottage cheese, peanuts, avocado, chickpeas, and eggs.
B12: White meats, fish, eggs and milk.
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How much should people be eating?
This study doesn't make recommendations, but Zhu says, "we want to convey messaging to pay more attention to these foods," he said.
While each person is different, Zhu says, but the current recommendations are that people eat at least 500 grams of vegetables and 300 grams of fruit a day. They want to get 400 micrograms of folate a day for example.
People also can ask their primary care doctor to order a blood test to check the levels of these vitamins to make sure they are getting enough.
Zhu also reminds people that the raw foods or lightly prepared foods will have more nutrients than those foods that are heavily cooked at a a high temperature or for a long time.
Can I just take a supplement?
Supplements, like the ones you find in bottles in a drug store or grocery store, are not regulated. You don't know how much you are getting, Zhu said, you also don't know how much you personally need of that vitamin.
Your doctor might advise a supplement after testing your blood biomarkers and knowing how much of a vitamin you might need to make up the difference in what you are not getting through your diet.
This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Texas State researcher: Vitamins help avoid diabetes, heart disease