Folate intake and incidence of hypertension among American young adults: A 20-y follow-up study

Pengcheng Xun, Kiang Liu, Catherine M. Loria, Deborah Bujnowski, James M. Shikany, Pamela J. Schreiner, Stephen Sidney, Ka He

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34 Scopus citations


Background: Laboratory studies suggest that folate intake may decrease blood pressure (BP) through increasing nitric oxide synthesis in endothelial cells and/or reducing plasma homocysteine concentrations. However, human studies, particularly longitudinal data, are limited. Objective: Our objective was to investigate whether dietary folate intake is associated with the 20-y incidence of hypertension. Design: We prospectively followed 4400 men and women (African Americans and whites aged 18-30 y) without hypertension at baseline (1985) in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study 6 times, in 1987, 1990, 1992, 1995, 2000, and 2005. Diet was assessed by dietary-history questionnaire at baseline and in 1992 and 2005. Incident hypertension was defined as the first occurrence at any follow-up examination of systolic BP ≥140 mm Hg, diastolic BP ≥90 mm Hg, or use of antihypertensive medication. Results: A total of 989 incident cases were identified during the 20-y follow-up. After adjustment for potential confounders, participants in the highest quintile of total folate intake had a significantly lower incidence of hypertension (HR: 0.48; 95% CI: 0.38, 0.62; P-trend < 0.01) than did those in the lowest quintile. The multivariable HRs for the same comparison were 0.33 (95% CI: 0.22, 0.51; P-trend < 0.01) in whites and 0.54 (95% CI: 0.40, 0.75; P-trend <0.01) in African Americans (P-interaction = 0.047). The inverse associations were confirmed in a subset of the cohort (n = 1445) with serum folate measured at baseline and in 1992 and 2000. Conclusions: Higher folate intake in young adulthood was longitudinally associated with a lower incidence of hypertension later in life. This inverse association was more pronounced in whites. Additional studies are warranted to establish the causal inference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1023-1030
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2012


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