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There's more evidence that high blood levels of an amino acid called homocysteine can increase the risk of heart disease as much as smoking or high cholesterol does.

According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, there are also indications that people who supplement their diets with folic acid and other B vitamins, which are known to lower homocysteine levels, experience substantial protection from vascular disease.

The study involved 1,550 male and female subjects. Researchers found that those with homocysteine levels in the top 20 percent of the study group doubled their risk for heart disease. Users of supplements containing folic acid, cobalamin (B-12) or pyridoxine (B-6) reduced their risk by 60 percent compared to those who did not take supplements.

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