Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Folic acid might help to combat Alzheimer's

The risk of developing Alzheimer's might be lowered by the consumption of a higher level of folic acid through diet and supplements, say researchers.

A study of around 1,000 elderly people found that those with higher than normal levels of the B vitamin are less likely to suffer mental deterioration.

It adds to mounting evidence that folic acid plays an important role in preventing or alleviating many disorders including heart disease and strokes.

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Centre in New York looked over six years at the diet and progress of 965 healthy people who had an average age of 75.

Around one in five, 192, developed Alzheimer's disease - but those with the highest intake of folic acid had the lowest risk.

Previous research has suggested that folic acid may improve the memory of people over 50 and cut the chances of developing Alzheimer's, but this is the largest study to find a reduced risk.

Source - Daily Mail

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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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Folic acid can cut risk of a harelip

Pregnant women who take folic acid can dramatically cut the chances of their baby having a harelip, say researchers.

Mothers-to-be are already advised to take supplements of the B vitamin to help prevent conditions such as spina bifida.

But a study has found folic acid was more effective than previously thought, reducing the risk of facial clefts by a third.

One in 1,000 babies born in the UK has the condition, but researchers found the lowest risk was among women who combined a folate-rich diet, multivitamins and daily folic acid supplement.

The Department of Health recommends women planning a pregnancy increase their intake of folic acid and also take a daily supplement. They are advised to continue taking folic acid for the first three months of a pregnancy.

Researchers examined the effects of folic acid on facial clefts in Norway, which has one of the highest rates in Europe. They studied babies born between 1996 and 2001, of whom 377 had a harelip, 196 had a cleft palate only and 763 were healthy controls.

The study found that taking folic acid supplements reduced the risk of a harelip, with or without a cleft palate, by a third.

Diets rich in high-folate foods such as fruit and vegetables also helped reduce the risk, according to the study, published online in the British Medical Journal.

Source - Daily Mail

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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Folic acid in all bread 'could put pensioners' health at risk'

All loaves of bread will be treated with vitamins under controversial plans which have been condemned as 'medication of the masses.'

A Government-commissioned report is this week expected to back the compulsory fortification of flour with folic acid to prevent babies being born with spina bifida.

But the move has sparked warnings that it would take away individual choice - and could endanger the health of elderly people by masking vitamin deficiencies.

Around 150 babies are born with birth defects such as spina bifida every year and another 750 pregnancies are terminated after scans reveal the problem in an unborn child.

Folic acid can prevent the problem so women are encouraged to take daily supplements of 400 micrograms from the moment they stop using contraception up to the 12th week of pregnancy.

However as half of all births in the UK are unplanned many fail to do so.

Research suggests that adding folic acid to all white and brown flour, as they do in the USA, would cut cases by more than 40 per cent.

In light of this, a new report by the Scientific Committee Advisory Committee on Nutrition, is this week expected to call for folic acid to be added to flour used in the UK.

When its draft report was published, Professor Sheila Bingham, chair of the committee's subgroup on folate and disease prevention, pointed out that many food and drinks are already fortified.

Source - Daily Mail

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Folic acid may be ‘force fed’ via bread

BRITAIN will take the first step towards mass medication of the population this week with the publication of proposals to add the vitamin folic acid to bread.
A report commissioned by ministers will recommend the compulsory fortification of flour and bread with folic acid to help prevent babies being born with birth defects.

It will say the benefits seen in the United States and Canada, where the strategy has helped reduce birth defects such as spina bifida by as much as 50%, justify such state intervention.

It will, however, be controversial: critics claim it takes away individual choice and could have other health risks, including contributing to neurological damage in the elderly.

In Australia, where a similar proposal is being advocated, there has been vocal opposition from the food industry, which claims it is backed by up to 90% of the public in polls.

In Britain, the move is being proposed by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, which was commissioned by ministers to examine the case for adding folic acid to bread.

Source - Times

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Folic acid 'hinders malaria drug'

Pregnant women taking folic acid to protect their baby's development may be at greater risk of malaria as a result, Kenyan research suggests.

The supplement interacts with a common antimalarial drug, rendering it less effective, the work shows.

Expectant mums on high dose folic acid, as recommended in Kenya, were twice as likely as others to fail treatment with sulfacoxine-pyrimethamine (SP).

The study appears in Public Library of Science Clinical Trials.


Friday, March 31, 2006

Studies Find B Vitamins Don't Prevent Heart Attacks

A widely promoted B vitamin regimen for the prevention of heart attacks and strokes has shown no beneficial effects in people at high risk, researchers are reporting today.

The hypothesis was that B vitamins — folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 — can protect people against homocysteine, an amino acid that some doctors said was as important and dangerous a risk factor for heart disease as cholesterol.

B vitamins, which are found in a variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables, have no known harmful effects. And if people take them as supplements, their homocysteine levels plummet.

So it seemed reasonable to many doctors and patients to expect that taking the vitamins would be protective. It might be even better than taking statins, some said, which are well established to prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels.

It was not, the new studies find.

Source - New York Times

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Folic acid linked to birth weight

Mothers-to-be with lower levels of the vitamin folate in their body during early pregnancy are more likely to have low weight babies, research suggests.

A team at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne studied nearly 1,000 women and their newborn babies.

Low birth weight is associated with an increased risk of serious health problems, including respiratory disorders and diabetes.

The research is published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Source - BBC News

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Folic acid 'cuts dementia risk'

Eating plenty of folic acid - found in oranges, lemons and green vegetables - can halve the risk of Alzheimer's disease, a study has suggested.

US National Institute on Aging experts monitored diets over seven years.

They found adults who ate the daily recommended allowance of folates (B vitamin nutrients) had a reduced risk of the disease.

UK researchers said the study added weight to previous suggestions folates could reduce Alzheimer's risk.

The study is published in Alzheimer's and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association.

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Monday, January 31, 2005

Folic acid 'cuts blood pressure'

Folic acid may help keep blood pressure in check, US researchers believe.

The study, in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association, adds to growing evidence of folate's cardiovascular benefits.

The Harvard team looked at data on about 156,000 nurses and found those with the lowest intakes of folate were at greater risk of hypertension.

Last week, researchers said folic acid - found in green leafy vegetables - might benefit people at risk of stroke.

Source BBC News