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B Vitamins May Not Boost Cognitive Performance

Folic acid and vitamin B12 reduce homocysteine, but don't improve recall

B Vitamins May Not Boost Cognitive Performance

THURSDAY, Nov. 13, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Taking vitamin B12 or folic acid supplements may not reduce seniors' risk of memory loss, according to a study published online Nov. 12 in Neurology.

Past research hinted that taking vitamin B12 and folic acid might help protect cognitive skills, according to background information from the study. But follow-up trials have yielded less convincing findings. The current study included 2,919 people (average age, 74 years). Half took a tablet daily with 500 µg of vitamin B12 and 400 µg of folic acid, and the rest took a placebo every day for two years. All of the participants had high levels of homocysteine, which has been linked to memory loss and Alzheimer's disease, according to the study. Cognitive tests were given at the start and end of the study.

"Since homocysteine levels can be lowered with folic acid and vitamin B12 supplements, the hope has been that taking these vitamins could also reduce the risk of memory loss and Alzheimer's disease," study coauthor Rosalie Dhonukshe-Rutten, Ph.D., of Wageningen University in the Netherlands, said in a journal news release.

Dhonukshe-Rutten and her colleagues found that people taking the vitamin B12-folic acid supplements had larger decreases in homocysteine levels than those taking the placebo. Despite that decrease, there was no difference between the two groups on the thinking and memory tests.

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