Moderate beer consumption may have a protective effect against
cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to a research letter published
in this week's issue of THE LANCET. Beer contains vitamin B6 which
prevents accumulation of homocysteine, an amino acid metabolite
and an independent risk factor for CVD. Henk Hendriks and colleagues
from TNO Nutrition and Food Research Institute, The Netherlands,
studied 11 healthy men who each drank beer, red wine, spirits,
and water, for three weeks, with dinner in a randomised order.
Homocysteine levels did not increase after beer consumption, but
rose after wine and spirits consumption. Beer drinkers had a 30%
increase of vitamin B6 in blood plasma, but, surprisingly, increased
vitamin B6 levels were also observed in the wine and spirit groups
(17% and 15%, respectively). High plasma vitamin B6 has been suggested
to be protective for CVD. The investigators suggest that beer
may contain constituents that increase further the overall protective
effect of moderate alcohol drinking.