1.19.2007

Folic Acid Boosts Brain
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Taking supplements of folic acid may significantly improve cognitive function in older men and women, according to a study appearing the medical journal Lancet.

The study was led by Jane Durga from the Wageningen University in The Netherlands.

Diminshing cognitive functions such as deterioration in memory, reduced ability to process information quickly, and reduced verbal fluency have been linked to risk of dementia in old age.

Dr Durga and colleagues followed a group of 818 over-50s for three years. Some were given 800 micrograms of a synthetic form of folic acid per day, the rest took a placebo. A synthetic version of the vitamin was used because the naturally occurring form degrades more easily, for example with storage and cooking, and that would make any results less reliable.

The scientists found that the group who took the folic acid improved on all aspects of cognitive functioning compared to the group that took the placebo.

Folic acid is a water soluble B vitamin and is found in yeast extract, green leafy vegetables, for example spinach, in dried beans and peas, some organ meats such as liver, fortified cereals, certain fruit and vegetables, and certain seeds, for example sunflower seeds. It plays an important role in the production of new cells, especially in the spinal cord an embryo, which is why it is important that pregnant women have their reference daily intake (RDI).

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