Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Alzheimer's and Folate
Many people I know say they have occasional "senior moments." They may forget a name or spend several minutes searching for their eyeglasses, which are, in fact, precariously perched on top of their head. They often cautiously joke that they are developing Alzheimer's disease. Truth is, it can be hard to distinguish sometimes but here is a little pearl: some forgetfulness is part of normal aging. If you are forgetting things that you didn't spend a lot of attention trying to remember, such as where you left your checkbook or keys, you probably have less to worry about. On the other hand, if you are forgetting the directions to your home or how to balance a checkbook, there should be more concern.
The number of Alzheimer's cases is getting ready to explode. Over the next few decades, we will most likely see a quadrupling of Alzheimer's cases! So, no surprise then that researchers are scrambling to figure out a way to prevent the disease. There will be billions of dollars spent trying to figure out treatments, but an article today caught my eye. It involves something already found in most medical cabinets and refrigerators. It is folic acid or folate. Researchers at Columbia University followed nearly 1,000 participants with an average age of 75 for six years. They found that those with the lowest levels of folate in their diet had the highest risk of Alzheimer's disease. They also found that those who had adequate amounts (200 micrograms a day) through diet and supplements had the lowest risk.
Certainly, there are plenty of good reasons already to take enough folate, and even extra amounts (to a total 400 micrograms) if you are pregnant. It can ward off heart disease, depression and protect your unborn baby. Now, there may be another reason as well. Incidentally, spinach, turnips, peas and beans have the highest levels. I am curious, though, about other methods you may be trying in hopes of keeping Alzheimer's at bay. It may be simpler than we think. Is there something you believe increases or decreases your risk?
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