Folate Intake Associated with Lower Alzheimer Risk

Protective effect seen only when folate comes from both diet and supplements

TUESDAY, Jan. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Folate intake through a combination of both diet and supplements may reduce the risk of Alzheimer disease, according to study findings published in the January issue of the Archives of Neurology.

Jose A. Luchsinger, M.D., of Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues evaluated the diets of 965 individuals aged 65 or older without dementia between 1992 and 1994, and followed them for slightly more than six years to determine if they developed Alzheimer disease. Overall, 192 individuals developed Alzheimer disease during follow-up.

Study participants who consumed the highest levels of folate through both diet and supplements had the lowest risk of Alzheimer disease, compared with those who had the lowest intake of folate. Of note, neither folate intake through diet or supplements alone decreased Alzheimer disease risk; the effect was only seen when folate came from both diet and supplements. Intake of vitamins B6 and B12 did not affect risk. The researchers speculate that folic acid may reduce elevated levels of homocysteine, which may affect Alzheimer disease risk.

Due to conflicting results seen in other trials, "the decision to increase folate intake to prevent Alzheimer disease should await clinical trials," the study authors conclude.

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