Folate deficiency associated with tripling of dementia risk

Feb 05, 2008

Folate deficiency is associated with a tripling in the risk of developing dementia among elderly people, suggests research published ahead of print in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

The 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 area in the south of the country.

Validated tests were carried out at the start and end of the two year period to find out if they had a dementing illness.

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.

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.

The higher the levels of folate to begin with, the higher were 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, inactive, and had deposits of the protein ApoE.

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.

The authors suggest that changes in micronutrients could be linked with the other typical signs that precede dementia, including weight loss and low blood pressure.

While weight loss is unlikely to alter micronutrients levels in the blood, it may indicate dietary changes in the quality of quantity of food intake.

Source: British Medical Journal

Explore further: A little wine might help kidneys stay healthy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Vitamin B12 may reduce risk of Alzheimer's disease

Oct 18, 2010

A new study shows that vitamin B12 may protect against Alzheimer's disease, adding more evidence to the scientific debate about whether the vitamin is effective in reducing the risk of memory loss. The research will be published ...

B vitamins and the aging brain examined

Aug 17, 2010

B vitamins-B-6, B-12 and folate-all nourish the brain. But much remains to be discovered about the relation between these essential nutrients and our brainpower.

Blood test identifies women at risk from Alzheimer's

Nov 06, 2009

Middle-aged women with high levels of a specific amino acid in their blood are twice as likely to suffer from Alzheimer's many years later, reveals a thesis from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. ...

Scientists learn how food affects the brain

Jul 09, 2008

In addition to helping protect us from heart disease and cancer, a balanced diet and regular exercise can also protect the brain and ward off mental disorders.

Recommended for you

Impact of whooping cough vaccination revealed

12 hours ago

The most comprehensive study to date of the family of bacteria that causes whooping cough points to more effective vaccine strategies and reveals surprising findings about the bacteria's origin and evolution. The new results ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Man among first in US to get 'bionic eye' (Update)

A degenerative eye disease slowly robbed Roger Pontz of his vision. Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa as a teenager, Pontz has been almost completely blind for years. Now, thanks to a high-tech procedure ...