Vitamin B9 deficiency may be linked to higher risks of dementia, death

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Scientists from Mount Sinai found that low levels of folate (vitamin B9) in the blood may be linked to a heightened risk of dementia and death from any cause in older people.

They suggest levels should be routinely monitored and deficiencies corrected in older age, especially given that blood levels of folate tend to tail off with age, with up to 1 in 5 older adults estimated to be folate deficient.

Folate deficiency affects cognition and nerve signaling in the brain, making it a possible risk factor for subsequent dementia.

In the study, the team wanted to know if folate deficiency might be linked to the risks of dementia and death in a large national sample of older adults.

They drew on the medical records of 27,188 people served by one national healthcare provider in Israel.

All the participants were aged between 60 and 75 and had no pre-existing dementia for at least 10 years before blood folate checks began in 2013.

Their records were monitored for a diagnosis of dementia or death up to the end of 2017.

The team found 3418 (just under 13%) participants were folate deficient, defined as levels below 4.4 ng/ml. Folate deficiency was linked to a higher risk of both dementia and death from any cause.

The team found the folate deficient were 68% more likely to be diagnosed with dementia and nearly 3 times as likely to die from any cause.

The researchers say it’s possible that folate deficiency might affect homocysteine levels and therefore the vascular risk of dementia, and/or compromise DNA repair of neurons, making them vulnerable to oxidative damage, which in turn might speed up brain cell aging and damage.

They conclude that blood levels of folate may function as a biomarker used to modify the risks of dementia and mortality in old age, adding that older adults should be routinely screened for folate deficiency.

If you care about supplements, please read studies about a daily vitamin that is critical to cancer prevention, and vitamin B can help reduce drug-resistant high blood pressure.

For more information about dementia, please see recent studies about why singing may help people with dementia, and results showing this old drug may help treat dementia.

The research was published in the journal Evidence-Based Mental Health.

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