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Food-as-Medicine: Folate for Your Brain: 400 micrograms Is Not Enough…But It's a Start.

By DrLaPuma 14 years agoNo Comments
Home  /  Drug Food Safety  /  Food-as-Medicine: Folate for Your Brain: 400 micrograms Is Not Enough…But It's a Start.
Dr John La Puma

818 healthy people ages 50 to 75 took either 800 micrograms of folic acid/day or placebo for 3 years in a new Dutch dementia study. On memory tests, the folate-takers were 5.5 years younger, and 1.9 years younger on tests of cognitive speed. Not bad for a simple B vitamin, widely available and inexpensive.

Does it reduce inflammation? (and homocysteine, and CRP?) Does it affect your genes that make proteins for the brain? Does it actually help prevent Alzheimer’s?

Folate deficiency is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies in the United States…and it is silent. In 1998, the average daily intake for adults was only 242 mcg, much less than the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) of 400 mcg/day.

The best food sources of folate are cereals: the government lists Whole Grain Total Cereal first! But folate is often poorly absorbed: a supplement is often helpful. Healthy foods for folate:
— Dark-green leafy vegetables; — Beans and legumes;
— Fruits (particularly citrus); — Wheat bran and whole grains
— Poultry, shellfish; — Breakfast cereal
Abstract: Effect of 3-year folic acid supplementation on cognitive function in older adults. A randomized, double blind, controlled trial
Background Observational studies show that low concentrations of folate and elevated concentrations of homocysteine are associated with poor cognitive performance in the general population.
Methods In a double blind trial, 818 men and postmenopausal women, ages 50-70 years, with plasma concentrations of homocysteine >=13 mmol/L and vitamin B12 >= 200 pmol/L at screening, recruited from municipal and blood bank registries in the Netherlands were randomized to receive 800 microgram/day folic acid as an oral supplement or placebo for 3 years. The main outcome of the study was performance in different domains of cognitive function, all expressed as Z-scores: sensorimotor speed, cognitive flexibility, memory, information processing speed and word fluency.
Results Compared to the placebo treatment, serum folate increased 5-fold and plasma total homocysteine concentrations decreased by ~25% after 3 years. Seventeen participants (2%) did not return after 3 years.
Commercial Relationship: J. Durga, None.

  Drug Food Safety, Vitamins and Supplements, Wellness and Mental Health