B vitamins and folate don’t keep minds sharp

B vitamins and folate don’t keep minds sharp

Taking B vitamins and folate doesn’t improve mental function in older people at risk for dementia, finds a study in the June 29 New England Journal of Medicine. For several years, researchers have been looking at the link between homocysteine–an amino acid in the blood–and mental performance. Past observational studies have linked higher homocysteine levels with an increased risk for dementia. This study included 276 healthy people (age 65 and over) with high homocysteine levels who did not have dementia or cognitive decline. Participants were randomly divided into two groups: One group took a daily folate supplement (1,000 micrograms) and vitamins B12 (500 micrograms) and B6 (10 milligrams), while the other group took a placebo. Although the vitamin group had lower homocysteine levels after two years, they didn’t score significantly better on cognition tests than the other group. This study was small, though, and it’s possible that the vitamins might have had a different effect on people who already had cognitive decline, the authors say. Larger studies in the future should provide more definitive results on the role of B vitamins and folate in dementia.

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