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A Vitamin a Day . . .

Posted - Feb. 23, 2004 at 4:40 p.m.



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A single daily multivitamin can reduce blood levels of C-reactive protein and its risk of heart disease, stroke and sudden cardiac death, says a recent study out of the Cooper Institute in Dallas.

The study, published in the American Journal of Medicine, found that Cooper Complete, the 24-ingredient multivitamin, reduced C-reactive protein, or CRP, by 32 percent over a six-month period.

CRP has emerged as an important predictor of future heart disease and has been identified as a major participant in the inflammatory process that causes plaque to stick to blood vessel walls.

The body makes CRP to fight infection and injuries, but in doing its job, the chemical produces inflammation that weakens plaque and can cause it to burst or break off and form clots. Inflammation is thought to be at the root of many heart attacks and strokes, as well as arthritis, Alzheimer's disease and some cancer. It is also an early sign of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Earlier studies indicate that vitamin E and other antioxidants may lower levels of CRP in the blood, but there has been limited proven therapeutic means of reducing the chemical, says Dr. Timothy Church, vice president of research at the Cooper Institute.

The study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted over six months. Participants ranged in age from 30 to 70.

Though more studies are needed, the finding offers promise that a multivitamin may be a low-cost, safe option for reducing CRP.

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(c) 2004, Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

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