Seniors with low levels of the folate B vitamin or folic acid has more than triple the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, according to the new research. “Attention needs to be paid to the nutritional status of people with dementia from the time of diagnosis onwards, regardless of whether this is a cause or effect of the condition.” Researchers tested the blood levels of all participants for folate, vitamin B12 and the amino acid homocystine. The seniors with low folate levels at the outset of the study were 3.2 times more likely to develop dementia ; those with low levels of vitamin B12 had a much lower risk, about 60 per cent. A number of studies have shown that high levels of homocysteine- a substance that can make arteries stiffen and clog- translate into higher rates of heart disease and dementia. Folate is a vitamin and found spinch, broccoli and asparagus, in leafy green vegetables and in legumes such as lentils and kidney beans, and in citrus fruits. It is also well established that folate and B12 lower homocysteine. What remains in question, however, is whether bolstering intake of B vitamins- for example with folic acid and B12 supplements- can actually prevent or slow the onset of dementia.
The new research does not directly answer that question, but it does demonstrate quite clearly that a drop in folate levels is closely associated with the onset of dementia. People with dementia also suffer weight loss and a drop in blood pressure. Relationship between weight loss and micro nutrient concentration is potentially complex,” but the new research suggests that it may be related to poor diet. The researchers say that “nutritionally good diet may delay the onset of dementia.