Dementia: Low levels of vitamin B9 increase risk new study warns – signs of deficiency

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Dementia – a general term for symptoms related to the progressive decline of the brain – is set to tighten it in the coming decades as the population ages. Efforts to understand what drives the development of dementia are ongoing. Older adults with low vitamin B9 levels have a higher risk of developing dementia, according to a new study published in the journal Evidence Based Mental Health.

Vitamin B9, also known as folate, helps the body make healthy red blood cells and is found in some foods.

Having low levels of the vitamin can also lead to an early 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 been diagnosed with dementia before the study began – gave samples to determine if they were folate deficient.

READ MORE: Dementia: A plant-based diet may reduce risk in later life – best food research

Based on the latest findings, academics from the United States and Israel suggest that folate levels should be regularly monitored in older adults and that deficiencies should be corrected.

“Serum folate levels may act as a biomarker used to modulate the risk of dementia and death in old age,” the authors wrote.

“The implications for public health policy appear to be to reliably monitor serum folate levels in older adults and treat deficiency for preventive measures and/or as part of treatment strategies implemented while regularly reviewing patient clinical outcomes.”

How do I know if I have a B9 deficiency?

A deficiency in vitamin B9 can cause a host of problems, some of which can be debilitating.

Pregnant women have been advised to supplement with a man-made version of folate – folic acid.

This is to help the developing baby’s brain, skull, and spinal cord develop properly to avoid developmental problems known as neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.

In September last year, governments across the UK announced that folic acid would be added to non-whole 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.

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