Folic Acid and Dementia: Supplementation Benefits Elderly People with Mild Cognitive Decline

Folic Acid and Cognitive ImpairmentElderly people with mild cognitive impairment saw significant improvements in both cognitive performance and reduced inflammation when supplementing with 400 mcg of Folic Acid daily for a period of 12 months.

Over 150 seniors with mild cognitive impairment were randomly assigned to two groups.  One group received daily Folic Acid supplementation (400 mcg) and the other group was a conventional-treatment group.

Significant improvements in cognitive function were seen in the group supplementing with Folic Acid.  Additionally a significant reduction in levels of inflammatory cytokines was seen.  Peripheral inflammatory cytokines appear to be biomarkers for identifying individuals who may be at a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Researchers believe looking at the role of inflammatory markers at the onset of dementia, before full clinical dementia syndrome has developed, is essential.  Researchers concluded that folic acid has significant memory enhancing and anti-inflammatory properties.

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Vitamin A Status At Birth Linked to Long-Term Risk of Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s

Cognitive FunctionA new study has found elderly individuals with low Vitamin A levels may be more at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease along with lower brain functioning.  Additionally the study found the even a marginal Vitamin A deficiency at birth might affect long-term risk factors.

This new study was made up of findings from mouse models as well as human population data.  The population study revealed that 75% of those with either a significant or even mild Vitamin A deficiency had some cognitive impairment compared to 47% with normal Vitamin A levels that experienced cognitive impairment.  The research on mice confirmed this finding.  Even a mild Vitamin A deficiency during pregnancy or immediately after birth was associated with an increase in the production of amyloid-beta plaques which are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.  Researchers found that mice deprived of Vitamin A performed poorly on standardized tests of memory as well as learning as adults.  Mice that had Vitamin A withheld while they were in the womb but were given a normal diet after they were born had lower performance in general when compared to mice receiving adequate Vitamin A in the womb but were deprived Vitamin A after birth.  It was found that some reversal of decline could be reversed with adequate Vitamin A supplementation.  Researchers concluded that monitoring Vitamin A during infancy as well as during pregnancy and eliminating a prenatal Vitamin A deficiency may aid in halting Alzheimer’s disease development.

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Micronutrient Supplementation For Mothers Boosts Infant Cognitive Health

Infant CognitionA major follow up study has determined pregnant women should take more micronutrients besides iron and folic acid to increase the long-term cognitive development of their children.

The Supplementation with Multiple Micronutrients Intervention Trial (SUMMIT) lasted from 2001 – 2004.  Over 31,000 pregnant women participated in this study.  The study goals were to determine if more micronutrients during pregnancy were necessary to increasing long-term cognitive and brain development.  Half the study participants received iron and folic acid supplements (IFA) during their pregnancy and for 3 months after their babies were born.  The other half of the study participants received iron and folic acid in addition to other micronutrients like B6, zinc and iodine (MMN).

Positive effects of the MMN supplement group were seen in 487 children who were assessed for cognitive ability at the ages 3 – 5 years old.  After 10 years of age, researchers tested almost 3,000 children who were now between 9 and 12 years of age.  The MMN Group totaled 1,466 children and the IFA group had 1,413 children.  The goals of this second round of testing were to assess the long term effect of MMN supplementation on socio-emotional, cognitive and motor development in the children and to assess the effect of socio-environmental and biomedical determinants on these results.

Children born from women in the MMN group showed significant proficiency in general intellectual ability and procedural memory when compared with the children of the women in the IFA group. This is equivalent to cognitive development gained from an additional half a year of schooling.   In general the children born to mothers in the MMN group showed improvements in socio-emotional, fine motor and cognitive abilities when compared with the children of the other group.

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Omega-3’s Linked to Better Cognitive Function in Mildly Impaired Older People

Omega-3 and CognitionA new study finds daily supplementation with Omega-3 essential fatty acids may improve measures of cognitive function like perceptual speed and memory.

86 people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) were randomly assigned to receive a placebo (olive oil) or an Omega-3 supplement (EPA 720 mg DHA 480 mg) daily for 6 months.  The average mean age of the participants was 71 years of age. Significant improvements in scores on Basic Cognitive Aptitude Tests (BCAT), which measure cognitive function, were seen in the group taking the Omega-3 essential fatty acid supplements.  Additionally significant improvements in working memory, space imagery efficiency and perceptual speed were seen in the Omega-3 group while no improvements were seen in recognition memory or mental arithmetic efficiency.  Men tended to see significant improvements in space imagery efficiency, working memory, and perceptual speed, while women saw significant improvements in space imagery and perceptual speed.  Both men and women saw significant improvements in BCAT scores compared to the placebo group.

Because the study group was small further research is needed.

Make sure your fish oil is molecularly distilled to remove potential toxins.  Also a Fish oil that is manufactured to comply with strict European standards will be free of heavy metals, PCB’s, dioxins, pesticides and other unwanted compounds.  An enteric coating will protect the Fish Oil  from the harsh environment of the stomach, and then  the softgel will better travel to the small intestine where it can be digested and its fatty acids released and absorbed into the body. This prevents a fishy aftertaste and odor, and is helpful to sensitive individuals.  Some products will use lemon oil to help with the digestion of the Fish Oil softgel without any fishy burps.

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Vitamin C and E Supplements May Protect Against Age-Related Brain Declines

Cognitive DeclineData from a recent study shows daily supplementation with Vitamin C and Vitamin E could reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

Data from over 5,000 seniors collected over a period of time (from 1991-2002) was analyzed.  Participants were all over 65 years of age.  Seniors who were supplementing with Vitamin E and/or Vitamin C had a statistically significant 40% reduction in all cause-dementia and a 42% reduction in Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  Compared to non vitamin users, participants who were supplementing with either Vitamin C or Vitamin E separately saw a 43% and 46% reduction in the risks of developing Alzheimer’s disease.  Additionally, the risk of developing cognitive impairment not dementia (CIND), were reduced by 31% in the seniors who supplemented with Vitamin C and 32% for seniors who supplemented with Vitamin E.

As we age there is a natural decline in brain function.  Mild cognitive impairment is considered a transitional state and small changes in mental abilities and memory coexist with normal functioning.  These declines in functions may often be a warning sign of dementia.  Dementia is a term that is used to describe many different brain disorders that all share a progressive loss of brain function.  It is believed that Oxidative stress may be a contributing factor to this process.

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Resveratrol Shows Metabolic and Brain Signaling Benefits

ResveratrolA new animal study found that daily supplementation with Resveratrol may increase energy metabolism, cell signaling pathways and neurotransmission.

23 male adult monkeys were randomly assigned to one of three groups: A control group fed a healthy diet, A negative control group fed a diet high in sugar and fat and a group fed a diet high in sugar and fats and supplemental Resveratrol (80 mg per day for the first year and 480 mg per day for the second year).  The study lasted 2 years.  Researchers used proteomics to identify changes in the expression of 12 specific proteins in the brains of these rhesus monkeys.

Improvements in energy metabolism and the efficiency of cell signaling pathways and neurotransmission in the group supplementing with the Resveratrol in addition to the high fat and sugar diet were seen.

This study adds to the existing science on the healthy benefits of Resveratrol, a very powerful polyphenal.  A lot of research has focused on Resveratrol’s cardiovascular benefits due to the nutraceuticals association with the “French Paradox”.  This phrase was used to describe the low incidence of obesity and heart disease in the French people even though they have a diet moderately high in fat.  It is believed to be their consumption of Red wine that neutralizes the damage of their high fat diet.

Further studies are needed.

A good Resveratrol product will be standardized to 200 mg of trans-resveratrol (the phyto-nutrient in the resveratrol that gives the polyphenal its beneficial properties).  Additional Grape Seed Extract may be added to provide additional antioxidant benefits.

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Could Folic Acid Decrease Dementia Risk?

Folic Acid and DementiaResearch suggests daily supplementation with folic acid may reduce the risk of having dementia in populations with low levels of this B vitamin and no program to fortify the diet with this nutraceutical.

Data from over 1,300 participants was analyzed.  Face to face interviews were done at the beginning of this study, the Three-City Study, to identify health related issues, socio demographic information and lifestyle characteristics.  All participants completed a 24 hour dietary recall and were dementia free at the time of the diet assessment.  Participants were followed for approximately 7 and ½ years.

Higher intakes of folate (folic acid) were inversely associated with the risk of dementia with approximately a 50% lower risk for participants with the highest folate levels compared to those with the lowest folate levels.

78 countries currently call for mandatory fortification programs for folic acid.  This was done to reduce and prevent neural tube defects in newborn babies.

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