Deficient diets blamed for Central and Eastern European heart disease epidemic

December 6, 2004 Printer Friendly
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Deficient diets blamed for Central and Eastern European heart disease epidemic



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Deficient diets blamed for Central and Eastern European heart disease epidemic
A study published in the December 2004 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association ( has concluded that diets that provide deficient levels of carotenoids and the B vitamin folate may be a major contributor to the heart disease epidemic that is occurring in Central and Western Europe.

Researchers at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland examined the dietary patterns of men and women in nineteen countries, grouped according to cultural patterns as Central and Eastern Europe and Russia, Western Europe and United States, Mediterranean countries, and Asian countries. Data on coronary mortality was available for all of the countries with the exception of three Asian nations.

Compared with the other groups, men and women in the Central and Eastern European group experienced a significantly higher rate of death from heart disease, followed by Western Europe and the United States. When the nutritional components of the subjects’ diets were analyzed, the deaths were found to be related to diets that were low in folate and the carotenoids beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.

In their discussion of the findings, the authors explain that inadequate folate intake can lead to an elevation of homocysteine, which is a risk factor for coronary heart disease. However, they stress that a single factor “could never explain this coronary epidemic,” and conclude that "the terrible toll from sudden death that is particularly striking in men aged 30 to 50 years [in Central and Eastern Europe] is likely the result of a combination of factors. Still, the diets in these countries that are high in pathogenic dietary factors and low in protective dietary factors, especially folate and carotenoids, may help explain the very high death rate from coronary disease in both men and women in Central and Eastern Europe."


Elevated homocysteine can be reduced (or detoxified) in two ways. The most common pathway is via the remethylation process, where methyl groups are donated to homocysteine to transform it into methionine and S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe).

A potent remethylation agent is TMG, which stands for trimethylglycine. The tri means there are three methyl groups on each glycine molecule that can be transferred to homocysteine to transform (remethylate) it into methionine and SAMe. The remethylation (or detoxification) of homocysteine requires the following minimum factors: (1) folic acid, (2) vitamin B12, (3) zinc, and (4) TMG.

Choline is another "methyl donor" that helps to lower elevated homocysteine levels, and this conversion doesn't require cofactors. However, choline only enhances remethylation in the liver and kidney, which is why it is so important to take adequate amounts of remethylating factors such as folic acid and vitamin B12 to protect the brain and the heart. The published literature emphasizes that folic acid and vitamin B12 are critical nutrients in the remethylation (detoxification) pathway of homocysteine.

The other pathway in which elevated homocysteine is reduced is via its conversion into cysteine and eventually glutathione via the trans-sulfuration pathway. This pathway is dependent on vitamin B6. The amount of vitamin B6 required to lower homocysteine has considerable individual variability. Methionine is the only amino acid that creates homocysteine. People who eat foods that are high in methionine (such as red meat and chicken) may need more vitamin B6. Elevated homocysteine can occur when there are insufficient vitamin cofactors (such as folate and vitamin B6) to detoxify the amount of methionine being ingested in the diet.

Featured Products

Folic Acid and Vitamin B12 capsules

Folic acid (folate) is a member of the B-complex family. It is found in abundance in leafy green vegetables, but is often deficient in the standard American diet. Folic acid participates in a coenzyme reaction that synthesizes DNA needed for cell growth and new cell formation and helps convert vitamin B12 to one of its coenzyme forms.

Folic acid provides the following health benefits:

  • Helps protect the chromosomes against genetic damage.
  • Lowers damaging homocysteine levels.
  • Participates in the utilization of sugar and amino acids.
  • Promotes healthier skin.
  • Helps maintain a healthy GI tract.

Chloroplex capsules

Chloroplex contains a variety of carotenoids and other plant extracts that can protect against DNA mutation and enhance cardiovascular and ocular health. Chloroplex also contains chlorophyll, an antioxidant and DNA protectant.  In addition, chlorophyll has the ability to neutralize aflatoxins, produced by the Aspergillus flavus mold that grows on corn and peanuts. While vitamin A and beta-carotene can neutralize aflatoxins to some degree, chlorophyll is much more effective.

South Floridians get healthy -- book your consultation with Eric R Braverman MD at Life Extension!

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