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Folic acid
    • Folic acid, Vitamin B9 (folate) is a water-soluble vitamin that is part of the B vitamin family. B vitamins help support adrenal function, help calm and maintain a healthy nervous system, and are necessary for key metabolic processes. Essential for human growth and development, Folic acid may also help protect against cancers of the lung, colon, and cervix, and may help slow memory decline associated with aging.
    • It encourages normal nerve and proper brain functioning. Pregnant women have an increased need for folic acid: it supports the growth of the placenta and fetus, and helps to prevent several types of birth defects, especially those of the brain and spine.

1: Folic Acid and Enhanced Memory

Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2011 Jan;31(1):83-91. doi: 10.1007/s10571-010-9557-1. Epub 2010 Dec 18.

Beneficial effects of folic acid on enhancement of memory and antioxidant status in aged rat brain.

Singh R1, Kanwar SS, Sood PK, Nehru B.

Abstract

As our population ages, diseases affecting memory and daily functioning will affect an increasing number of individuals, their families and the healthcare system. Therefore, there is a need to study and evaluate effects of certain conditions for anti-aging of the brain. Nutrient supplementation can modify the brain function. The chemistry and function of both the developing and the mature brain are influenced by diet (Fernstrom, Am J Clinical Nutrition 71:1669S-1673S, 2000). Clinical, biochemical, and pathological aspects have shown a correlation between mental symptoms, especially depression and cognitive decline, with high incidence of folate deficiency (Bottiglieri et al., J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 69:562, 2000). In the present study, consequences of folic acid supplementation on brain dysfunction as a result of aging were studied in cerebral cortex, mid brain, and cerebellar regions of rat brain. This study was carried out on 6-, 11-, and 16-month-old rats, which received folic acid at a dose of 5 mg/kg body weight/day for a period of 8 weeks. Respective control groups of the same age groups were also taken. At the end of the treatment duration, behavioral studies were performed and later the animals were killed for various biochemical and histological investigations. Results indicated significant improvement in memory as assessed by active avoidance, passive avoidance, and plus maze tests in the folic acid supplemented aged animals. Significant improvement was also seen in the cellular protective mechanisms where by the activity of superoxide dismutase and catalase enzymes increased in folic acid supplemented group and so was the glutathione content. Increased lipid peroxidation content, a marker of aging, was also found to be decreased during folic acid supplementation in all the three regions of brain in our study. Thus, it can be concluded that folic acid helps in improving the memory status by reducing oxidative stress and maintaining the integrity of neurons during aging.

2: Clinical Study Reviews

1. 2007 in Life Enhancement.com, Hyla Cass, MD reviewed a Dutch study that concluded folic acid “youthens” memory function by seven years. The researchers have that, in a large group of elderly people (818 Dutch men and postmenopausal women, aged 50–70) with high levels of the amino acid homocysteine, long-term supplementation with the B-vitamin folic acid (aka folate) improved various aspects of cognitive function. In the medical journal The Lancet, the researchers reported that the participants given folic acid showed significantly better changes on the cognitive tests than the placebo group. They suggest that folic acid might simultaneously affect memory and speed, because high levels of homocysteine are linked to damage to the hippocampus — the area of the brain important for memory formation.

2. A large study in 2005 added to the evidence of a link between folic acid intake and cognitive decline. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, concentrated on homocysteine, which is elevated when a person’s folic acid intake is too low. The team measured blood homocysteine levels and cognitive function, using 20 neurobehavioral tests, in 1,140 men and women ages 50 to 70 enrolled in the Baltimore Memory Study.

Researchers found a clear link between homocysteine levels and cognitive ability, even when taking into account many related variables such as ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Homocysteine was “consistently and strongly associated with poorer neurobehavioral test performance,” they said. The closest links were found between homocysteine and speed of movement, eye-hand coordination, dexterity, verbal memory, and learning.The researchers concluded that “higher homocysteine levels were associated with worse function across a broad range of cognitive domains, and the magnitude of the associations was large. The data suggest that homocysteine may be a potentially important modifiable cause of cognitive dysfunction.”

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