Critical review of nutrition, blood pressure and risk of hypertension through the lifecycle: do B vitamins play a role?

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Hypertension is the leading cause of preventable mortality worldwide, contributing to over 9 million deaths per annum, predominantly owing to cardiovascular disease. The association of obesity, physical inactivity and alcohol with elevated blood pressure (BP) is firmly established. Weight loss or other dietary strategies, such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, have been shown to be effective in lowering BP. Additionally, specific nutrients are recognised to contribute to BP, with higher sodium intake linked with an increased risk of hypertension, while potassium is associated with a reduced risk of hypertension. Of note, emerging evidence has identified a novel role for one-carbon metabolism and the related B vitamins, particularly riboflavin, in BP. Specifically in adults genetically at risk of developing hypertension, owing to the common C677T polymorphism in MTHFR, supplemental riboflavin (co-factor for MTHFR) was shown in randomised trials to lower systolic BP by up to 13 mmHg. A BP response to intervention of this magnitude could have important clinical impacts, given that a reduction in systolic BP of 10 mmHg is estimated to decrease stroke risk by 40%. This review aims to explore the factors contributing to hypertension across the lifecycle and to critically evaluate the evidence supporting a role for nutrition, particularly folate-related B vitamins, in BP and risk of hypertension. In addition, gaps in our current knowledge that warrant future research in this area, will be identified.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-90
Number of pages15
Early online date11 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 30 Jun 2020


  • Blood pressure
  • Hypertension
  • Hypertension in pregnancy
  • one-carbon metabolism
  • Folate-related B-vitamins


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