Folic Acid and Vitamin B12 Prevent Cognitive Decline

Nine hundred men and women (aged 60-74 years) with elevated psychological distress (Kessler Distress 10-Scale; scores > 15) were randomly assigned to receive, in double-blind fashion, 400 pg per day of folic acid plus 100 pg per day of vitamin B12 or placebo for 2 years.

Folic Acid and Vitamin B12 Prevent Cognitive Decline
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Cognitive function improved in both groups (presumably due at least in part to practice effects), but the improvement at 24 months was significantly greater in the vitamin group than in the placebo group for scores that measured total cognitive functioning (Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status-Modified [TICS-M]; p = 0.032; effect size = 0.17), immediate recall (p < 0.05; effect size = 0.15), and delayed recall (p = 0.013; effect size = 0.18).

FYI: Several studies have shown that supplementation with various B vitamins can slow the rate of cognitive decline in elderly individuals. In the present study, the combination of folic acid and vitamin B12 improved immediate and delayed memory performance relative to placebo in a group of older volunteers. Nutritional status tends to decline and nutrient requirements tend to increase with advancing age. As a result, many seniors may not be consuming the amounts of micronutrients needed for optimal brain health. Supplementation with B vitamins and possibly other micronutrients appears to be a simple, low-cost method of preserving cognitive function in elderly people.

Townsend Letter
7 September 2012