Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Folic acid sets back effects of ageing on the brain by five years, says study

Folic acid, the vitamin prescribed to pregnant women, could be a brain saver, a study has found.

People who took high dose supplements of folic acid did significantly better in tests of memory and cognitive performance than those given a placebo, researchers report.

The vitamin is found in green leafy vegetables, beans and liver but few people in the UK and northern Europe obtain high enough levels from diet alone. Average intake is around 200 micrograms a day, half the recommended amount.

Folic acid plays a crucial role in the development of the embryo and some countries such as the US now fortify flour with the vitamin. As a result the incidence of spina bifida and similar birth defects has declined. Low folate levels have also been linked with poor cognitive performance, but research has failed to show a benefit among people given supplements.

Now scientists from the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands have demonstrated with the use of more sensitive tests of cognitive performance that high dose folic acid supplements taken over a long period slow the effect of ageing on the brain.

Source - Independent

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