Research ties vitamin B12 and folate deficiencies with Alzheimer's disease

May 07, 2001

ST. PAUL, MN - People with low levels of B12 or folate may have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to a study in the May 8 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The long-range Swedish study of persons 75-years-old and older found that more than half (46 out of 78) of those diagnosed with dementia had both low levels of vitamin B12 or folate and Alzheimer's type dementia.

Study authors theorized that vitamin B12 or folate deficiencies affect Alzheimer's disease by influencing neurotransmitters or the levels of the amino acid homocysteine in the body. Either vitamin B12 or folate deficiency can increase homocysteine levels. Homocysteine has a neurotoxic effect that could lead to cell death or neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.

"In our study, we found that low levels of either of these two vitamins were related to an increased Alzheimer's disease risk," said study co-author Hui-Xin Wang. "Monitoring B12 and folate levels is important in order to avoid unfavorable conditions, even for those elderly people who are quite healthy in terms of cognition."

For more than thirty years, researchers have observed low vitamin B12 and folate levels in elderly people, according to Wang. It had also been previously theorized that this vitamin deficiency might be tied to neurological or psychiatric disorders. This study breaks new ground by connecting these deficiencies with Alzheimer's disease.

Vitamins B12 and folate (a form of water-soluble vitamin B) are found in common foods. Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal foods including fish, milk and milk products, eggs, meat, and poultry. Leafy greens such as spinach and turnip greens, dry beans and peas, fortified cereals and grain products, and some fruits and vegetables are rich food sources of folate.

Study data were pulled from a population-based longitudinal study in Sweden called the Kungsholmen Project. A random sample of 370 non-demented persons, age 75 and older, and not treated with B12 or folate dietary supplements, was followed for three years to detect cases of Alzheimer's disease. Within the timeframe of the study, 78 people developed some form of dementia.
-end-
The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 17,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit its web site at www.aan.com.For more information contact:
Kathy Stone 651-695-2763

American Academy of Neurology

Related Dementia Articles from Brightsurf:

The danger of Z-drugs for dementia patients
Strong sleeping pills known as 'Z-drugs' are linked with an increased risk of falls, fractures and stroke among people with dementia, according to new research.

The long road to dementia
Alzheimer's disease develops over decades. It begins with a fatal chain reaction in which masses of misfolded beta-amyloid proteins are produced that in the end literally flood the brain.

Why people with dementia go missing
People with dementia are more likely to go missing in areas where road networks are dense, complicated and disordered - according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

PTSD may double risk of dementia
People who have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are up to twice as likely to develop dementia later in life, according to a new study by UCL researchers, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Dementia education
School-based dementia education could deliver much needed empathy and understanding for older generations as new research from the University of South Australia shows it can significantly improve dementia knowledge and awareness among younger generations.

Building dementia friendly churches
A project to help church communities become more 'dementia friendly' has had a significant impact across the country.

A "feeling" for dementia?
A research team led by the DZNE concludes that personal perception can be an important indicator for the early detection of Alzheimer's disease.

New biomarker for dementia diagnosis
Medical researchers in the UK and Australia have identified a new marker which could support the search for novel preventative and therapeutic treatments for dementia.

Digital solutions for dementia care
Telehealth delivery of dementia care in the home can be as effective as face-to-face home visit services if carers and recipients take advantage of the technologies available, Australian researchers say.

Despite a marked reduction in the prevalence of dementia, the number of people with dementia is set to double by 2050 according to new Alzheimer Europe report
Today, at a European Parliament lunch debate, Alzheimer Europe launched a new report presenting the findings of its collaborative analysis of recent prevalence studies and setting out updated prevalence rates for dementia in Europe.

Read More: Dementia News and Dementia Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.