Dementia - a general term for symptoms associated with progressive brain decline - is set to tighten its grip in the coming decades as populations
Dementia – a general term for symptoms associated with progressive brain decline – is set to tighten its grip in the coming decades as populations age. Efforts to understand what drives the development of dementia is afoot. According to a new study published in the journal Evidence Based Mental Health, older people with low levels of vitamin B9 have a higher risk of dementia.
Vitamin B9, also known as folate, helps the body make healthy red blood cells and is found in certain foods.
Having low levels of the vitamin has also been linked to premature death.
For the latest study, researchers examined data on more than 27,000 people aged 60 to 75 from Israel.
The group – none of whom had a dementia diagnosis before the start of the study – gave samples to determine whether or not they had a folate deficiency.
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In light of the latest findings, academics from the US and Israel said that folate levels should be routinely monitored among older adults and deficiencies should be corrected.
The authors wrote: “Serum concentrations of folate may function as a biomarker used to modify the risks of dementia and mortality in old age.
“The implications for public health policy appear to be to reliably monitor serum concentrations of folate in older adults and treat deficiency for preventative measures and/or as part of implemented therapeutic strategies while regularly reviewing patients’ clinical outcomes.”
How do I know if I am B9 deficient?
A vitamin B9 deficiency can cause a wide range of problems, some of which can prove highly debilitating.
Pregnant women are already advised to take a supplement of the man-made version of folate – folic acid.
This is to help their developing baby’s brain, skull and spinal cord develop properly to avoid development problems called neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.
In September last year, governments across the UK announced that folic acid will be added to non-wholemeal wheat flour across the UK to help prevent spinal conditions in babies.
The best sources of folate include green vegetables, such as broccoli, brussels sprouts and peas.