Folate Prevents Dementia

Eat Your Greens

Exciting and promising research published ahead of print in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry suggests that folic acid deficiency is associated with the tripling of the risk for developing dementia among the elderly. The implications are clear: taking folic acid supplements and eating greens may reduce your chances of developing dementia.

The development of dementia in 518 people over the course of two years from 2001-2003 was tracked by the researchers of this study. Participants were all over the age of 65 and living in one of two areas, urban and rural, in the southern part of the United States.

Researchers began by verifying that none of the participants had dementia. This was done through the administration of standard laboratory tests. In addition, blood tests were performed to evaluate levels of B12, folate, and homocysteine; a protein that in high levels is associated with cardiovascular disease. These tests were performed both at the beginning and at the end of the two year study.

At the time the study was begun, almost one in five participants had high levels of homocysteine, while 17% were deficient in vitamin B12. Another 3.5% of those in the study were deficient in folate.

It was found that high levels of folic acid at the beginning of the study correlated to higher levels of B12 and lower levels of homocysteine.

45 people had developed dementia by the study's end. Of these, 34 had Alzheimer's disease, 7 had vascular dementia, and four of them had other types of dementia.

Those who were older, had less education, and were found to have deposits of the protein ApoE were more likely to have contracted dementia. Also, those whose folate levels fell over the two year period at the same time that their homocysteine levels rose were found to have a significant increase in the onset of dementia.

Take Folic Acid

The researchers believe that changes in micronutrients could be concurrent with other already known signs that presage dementia, such as weight loss and low blood pressure. Though weight loss is not a likely culprit in altered micronutrients' levels in the blood, it may be an indication that dietary changes affect the quality or quantity of food intake which may lead to such deficiencies. The upshot: it won't hurt, and just might prevent you from getting dementia if you add folate-rich foods to your diet and take folic acid supplements.

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