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Summer heat kills. It can be especially dangerous if you live in a big city. But you can help your body shrug off the dog days of summer with a simple vitamin.
As you grow older, your body’s ability to cope with high temperatures drops. The reason: Older blood vessels have a tougher time dilating so that your circulation, which functions like the cooling system in a car engine, can keep the blood flowing freely, dissipating heat.
According to scientists at Penn State, taking supplements of folate, the B vitamin found in green leafy vegetables, can keep your blood moving, cooling your skin and reducing your risk for heart problems.
The nitric oxide connection
“We know that when older adults are exposed to heat, their bodies are not able to increase skin blood flow to the same extent that young subjects do, and as a consequence, older adults are at a greater risk for cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke, during environmental heat waves,” says researcher Anna Stanhewicz.
The body depends on the production of nitric oxide to widen its blood vessels and stay cool. However, with the passing years, your ability to make this substance slows.
“When young, healthy people are exposed to heat, their bodies increase blood flow to the skin and this increased flow, combined with sweating, helps to cool the body down,” says Stanhewicz.
To make vessel-widening nitric oxide the body needs an enzyme named tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4). Taking folate increases the supply of BH4.
The Penn State researchers used folic acid in their study. Their study showed that the B vitamin worked as well in helping people keep their cool as did an expensive drug.
“The bottom line is that folic acid supplementation increased nitric oxide production in older blood vessels,” Stanhewicz says. “In the past, studies conducted in our lab showed that we can increase nitric oxide production, and then consequently reflex skin blood flow, in older adults by giving them an expensive pharmaceutical. So in this study, we wanted to test that again, but with an inexpensive treatment that might work the same way.”
Stanhewicz and her fellow researchers gave their subjects 5 milligrams of folic acid. Taking folate should be even more effective. And don’t forget to eat your green leafy vegetables.
Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!