Higher folate levels linked to reduced risk for Alzheimer's disease

Jan 08, 2007

Individuals who take in higher levels of the nutrient folate through both diet and supplements may have a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to a report in the January issue of Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

By the year 2047, the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease is expected to quadruple, according to background information in the article. Delaying the onset of this neurodegenerative disease would significantly reduce the burden it causes. Researchers suspect that elevated levels of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood, which is linked to a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke, may also increase the risk for Alzheimer's disease. Folate, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6, are important in the body's processing of homocysteine--therefore, deficiencies in these nutrients increase homocysteine levels and may contribute to cardiovascular disease, stroke and dementia.

José A. Luchsinger, M.D., Columbia University Medical Center, New York, and colleagues examined, interviewed and assessed the diets of 965 individuals without dementia between 1992 and 1994 and then followed them for an average of 6.1 years to see if they developed Alzheimer's disease. The participants had an average age of 75.8 and 70.2 percent were women, 32.6 percent African-American, 45.3 percent Hispanic and 22.1 percent white.

During the follow-up period, 192 of the participants developed Alzheimer's disease. When the individuals were divided into four groups based on the total level of folate they took in through food and supplements and the analysis was adjusted for patient characteristics, comorbid diseases and B12 and B6 intake, the risk of Alzheimer's disease was lower in the groups with higher intake. Neither dietary folate nor supplements alone were significantly linked to Alzheimer's disease risk; only the two in combination appeared to produce an effect. Levels of the vitamins B12 and B6 were not associated with Alzheimer's disease risk.

Higher folate intake was modestly correlated with lower homocysteine levels, "indirectly suggesting that a lower homocysteine level is a potential mechanism for the association between higher folate intake and a lower Alzheimer's disease risk," the authors write.

Definitive conclusions about the role of folate in the development of Alzheimer's disease cannot yet be made, they continue. The findings of this study are in contrast to those of some other research, and other compounds (such as hormones) perceived to reduce the risk for dementia in observational studies did not do so in randomized trials. "Thus, the decision to increase folate intake to prevent Alzheimer's disease should await clinical trials," they conclude.

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals

Explore further: US scientists make embryonic stem cells from adult skin

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 ...

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. ...

Alzheimer's disease breakthrough

Nov 17, 2008

CSIRO scientists have developed a new system to screen for compounds that can inhibit one of the processes that takes place during the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Recommended for you

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

New pain relief targets discovered

Apr 17, 2014

Scientists have identified new pain relief targets that could be used to provide relief from chemotherapy-induced pain. BBSRC-funded researchers at King's College London made the discovery when researching ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.