Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Folate Deficiencies Found Behind Many Dementia Cases

Research published ahead of print in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry shows that folate deficiency is associated with a tripling in the risk of developing dementia among elderly people.

These researchers tracked the development of dementia in 518 people over two years from 2001 to 2003. All participants were over the age of 65 and lived in one rural and one urban location. After setting up their study base, researchers conducted validated tests at the start of the two year period to find out if their patients had signs of dementia. These same tests were performed at the end of the two year study.

Similarly, blood tests were taken to assess levels of folate, vitamin B12, and the protein homocysteine, and how these changed over time. (High levels of homocysteine have been associated with cardiovascular disease. It is a very corrosive protein and has also been determined to affect bone fractures in the elderly).

At the start of the two year period, almost one in five people had high levels of homocysteine, while 17% had low vitamin B12 levels and 3.5% were folate deficient. It was discovered that the higher the levels of folate to begin with, the higher the vitamin B12 levels, and the lower those of homocysteine.

By the end of the study, 45 people had developed dementia. Of these, 34 had Alzheimer’s disease, seven had vascular dementia, and four had “other” types of dementia. Dementia was more likely in those who were older, relatively poorly educated, or inactive.

The onset of dementia was significantly more likely in those whose folate levels then fell further over the two years, while their homocysteine levels rose. People who were folate deficient to begin with, were almost 3.5 times more likely to develop dementia.

This study shows the importance of maintaining a healthy diet and daily vitamin supplementation. Many senior citizens do not care for themselves properly when it comes to preparing wholesome meals. It is important to buy a quality, health food store or doctor-recommended multiple vitamin instead of the big name advertised brands of vitamins found in drug stores (which are often of lower quality). Avoid the cheapie, dollar-store vitamins at all costs.


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