One In Eight Older Irish Adults Vitamin B12 Deficient

Vitamin B12 Deficiency in Older AdultsAccording to a new study, one in eight older adults from Ireland may be deficient in Vitamin B12 with one in seven deficient in Folate.  This study may be of great importance to countries that do not mandate fortification requirements.

This data came from the TILDA (The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing).  The study found deficient or low Vitamin B12 was more prevalent in people who lived alone (14.3%), smokers (14%) and individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds (13%).  Low or deficient Folate rates was found in participants as they aged, 23% in individuals over 80 years of age and 14% among those in the 50 – 60 year old age bracket.  Low Folate levels were also determined to be more common in smokers, obese individuals and people who lived alone.  Supplementation in the study participants was low but more women than men both Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid, however less than 4% of the study group took either vitamin.

Countries like the United State have mandatory folic acid fortification and have reduced rates of individuals with low Folate status, 1.2% in the US compared with 15% in Ireland.

Further studies are needed.



Folic Acid Supplements May Reduce Stroke Risk in Hypertensive Patients

Folic Acid and Stroke PreventionA new research team has suggested that supplementation with Folic Acid may reduce the risk of stroke by approximately 75% in individuals with High Blood Pressure.

Over 10,750 individuals who were a part of the China Stroke Primary Prevention Trial (CSPPT) participated in this RCT (randomized controlled trial).  Participants varied in age from 45 to 75 years of age.  All participants had Hypertension or were taking Anti-Hypertensive medication.  Participants were randomly assigned into two groups.  Group one contained over 5,400 patients who received either a daily 10 mg oral dose of Enalapril, an Anti-Hypertensive, plus 800 mcg of Folic Acid.  Group two contained over 5,300 patients who received only the Enalapril.

210 first strokes occurred in group two, the Enalapril only group, while 161 first strokes occurred in group one, the Enalapril plus Folic Acid group over a 4 year period.  Researchers determined that the risk of a first stroke was reduced from 5.6% to 1.8% in group one participants who shared low platelet counts and high homocysteine levels which represented a 73% risk reduction.  No benefits in Folic Acid supplementation was seen in participants with a high platelet count and low homocysteine levels.

Researchers concluded taking a B Vitamin or a Multi-Vitamin/Mineral Supplement containing Folic Acid was a wise move for all adults.



Nutrient Deficiencies Linked to Mental Ill Health

Nutrient Deficiencies and Mental Health IssuesAccording to a new review, patients with Schizophrenia, a long-term mental disorder, have low levels of Vitamins C, E, D, B12 and Folate.  The studies looked at did not determine a definitive cause and effect relationship between Schizophrenia and nutritional deficiencies.

28 study articles were reviewed for this meta-analysis which involved over 2600 participants, 1221 with first-episode psychosis (FEP) and 1,391 controls.  Significant reduction in Vitamin C, Vitamin D and folate were seen in the participants who had experienced FEP when compared to the control group.  These nutrient deficiencies existed in participants with long-standing psychosis as well as at the onset of first-episode psychosis.  Researchers also found that the difference in Vitamin D levels between the control group and the participants experiencing FEP was the most pronounced of all the nutrients.  In one study researchers found the differences in participant’s folate levels were caused from genetic differences in metabolizing folate and not from dietary influences.  Additionally large deficits of Vitamin C in FEP were noted in 2 studies both with small sample sizes.  It was noted that this Vitamin C deficit may have been due to low vegetable and fruit intake in the group with the Vitamin C deficit.  One RCT (randomized control trial) in participants undergoing their first antipsychotic treatment who supplemented with 500 mg of Vitamin C daily showed reductions in psychiatric symptoms.

The review showed that nutritional deficiencies caused from insufficient absorption or intake of nutrients is seen as potential risk factors for psychiatric conditions.  Vitamin B supplementation may reduce symptoms of schizophrenia significantly and reverse some neurological deficits associated with the disorder.  Additionally the antioxidants, Vitamin C and E are lower in long-term schizophrenia which might contribute to the increased levels of oxidative stress seen in this group of people.

Future research is warranted.



Low Folate and B12 Linked to Severity of Fatty Liver Disease

B12-Folic Acid and Fatty Liver DiseaseResearchers have found a link in the progression of Liver Fibrosis in Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) and two important B Vitamins.

Over 80 patients with Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatisis (NASH), a progressive form of Non Fatty Liver Disease, participated in this study.  The average age of the study participants was 41 years old.  The study included 32 women and 51 men.  Liver biopsies were analyzed using the SAF (steatosis, activity, and fibrosis) scoring system to determine the degree of NASH in each participant.  Additionally blood levels of B12 and Folate were taken and correlations were made between the stages of the disease progression.

Researchers determined an inverse relationship existed between the grades of fibrosis (formation of scar tissue) in the liver and blood levels of Folate and Vitamin B12.  Lower serum Vitamin B12 levels were also associated with a higher severity of NASH.   Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis is known to start as a simple steatosis (the accumulation of fat cells in the liver) and then progress to NASH as scar tissue (fibrosis) occurs.

Further studies are needed in order to determine the pathological role of low Vitamin B12 and Low Folate in the development of NASH.


Maternal Use of Folic Acid and Vitamins Linked to Reduced Autism Risk in Children

Folic Acid and Autism RiskAccording to a study done in Israel, mothers who supplement with a Multivitamin and Folic Acid, both before and during their pregnancy, reduce their child’s risk factors for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Researchers studied Israeli children born between January 1, 2003 and December 31, 2007.  Participants were followed up from birth to January 26, 2015 to determine the risk of ASD.  A random sample of 33% of all live-born children were chosen, this group contained cases of all children diagnosed with ASD and a control group.  The mother’s supplement use was classified for Folic acid, Multivitamin Supplements containing Vitamins A,B,C and D and and a combination of the two groups.  Additionally the intervals for supplementation (before and during pregnancy) were noted.

A statistically significant reduction in the likelihood of ASD was seen in women who supplemented with Folic Acid and/or a Multivitamin Supplement before pregnancy when compared with women who did not supplement either before or during pregnancy.  This is consistent with other studies which showed maternal Folic Acid supplementation 4 weeks prior to conception and 8 weeks into the pregnancy had a reduction in the risk of offspring with ASD.

Folic Acid (Vitamin B9) is well known for its benefits in the reduction of neural tube defects, like spina bifida in newborns, in addition to its support for reductions in developmental problems like placental abnormalities and heart defects.  Also a mother’s Folic Acid level during pregnancy has been associated with cognitive functioning in their offspring.


Prenatal Folic Acid Supplementation Helps Lower Postpartum Depression Risk

Folic Acid and Postpartum DepressionSupplementing Folic Acid for at six months before giving birth could lower the risk of postpartum depression.

Almost 1,600 women who had given birth six to 12 weeks earlier were recruited to participate in this study.  Data on prenatal folic acid supplementation, obstetric history, and lifestyle and socio-demographic characteristics was collected.  803 (50.4%) women participating in the study took Folic Acid supplements during their pregnancy but for a period of 3 months or less, 146 (9.2%) supplemented with Folic Acid for 4 to 6 months and 643 (40.4%) women supplemented with Folic Acid for over 6 months.  Researchers noted 29.4% of the participants experienced postpartum depression.  The tendency to experience postpartum depression was lower in the group of women who had supplemented Folic Acid for over 6 months of their pregnancy.

Previous studies done worldwide have found determinants of postpartum depression (PPD) include biological factors, hormones, inflammatory factors, nutrients, cultural and environmental factors, family history and social support, and socio-economic status.  Researchers believe this study shows that prenatal Folic Acid supplementation for over 6 months decreased the risk of PPD regardless of the contributing factors seen in past studies.

Further studies which take into account serum and dietary Folic Acid levels would eliminate any bias found in this study which relied on participants recall and was collected after the participants had given birth.


Taking Folic Acid Around Conception May Help Reduce Autism Risk from Pesticides

Autism and Folic AcidAccording to a study in Environmental Health Perspectives, mothers who were exposed to pesticides but had taken high doses of Folic Acid around the time they had conceived, had a reduced risk of giving birth to a child with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Data from the CHARGE (Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment) trial was used in this case-controlled study.  The children in the study varied in age from 2 to 5 years of age and included almost 300 children who had developed ASD and over 200 healthy controls.  The researchers used interviews to evaluate Folic Acid consumption and peri-conceptual exposure to household pesticides.  California Pesticide Use reports were used to link mothers’ addresses to agricultural pesticide exposure.

Because it is well known that pesticides can adversely affect DNA methylation, Folic Acid, a major methyl donor, plays an important role in DNA repair and synthesis as well as DNA methylation.  This becomes especially important during periods of rapid cell growth, like when a fetus is developing.

Risk of a child developing ASD was halved in mothers supplementing with 800 mcg of folic acid in the first month of pregnancy who had been exposed to agricultural pesticides at any time in the 3 months either before or after conceiving. Low folic acid intake and regular exposure to foggers and outdoor pesticide sprays increased the risk of offspring developing ASD by 4 times when compared with mothers not exposed to pesticides and supplementing with high Folic Acid.

Researchers agree it is best for women to avoid chronic exposure to pesticides while pregnant, however higher Folic Acid consumption seems to lower ASD risk.