Folic acid and dementia: Supplementation benefits elderly people with mild cognitive decline, China RCT

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Folic acid has significant anti-inflammatory and memory-enhancing properties. ©iStock
Folic acid has significant anti-inflammatory and memory-enhancing properties. ©iStock

Related tags Folic acid Inflammation

Supplementing diets with 400mg of folic acid daily for 12 months significantly improved cognitive performance and reduced inflammation among elderly people with mild cognitive impairment.

Dementia is a substantial public health concern in China due to the increasing number of older adults.

Therefore, academics from Tianjin Medical School randomly assigned 168 people with mild cognitive impairment to folic acid supplementation or conventional-treatment groups.

The researchers recorded significant improvements in cognitive function among the supplementation group, particularly in memory tasks.

“Additionally, we observed a significant reduction in the levels of peripheral inflammatory cytokines…in the treatment group during the follow-up period,”​ they wrote in the journal Scientific Reports.

The reduction in peripheral inflammatory cytokines is significant because they have emerged as a useful source for predicting individuals who are at a greater risk of developing dementia.

Preclinical period

Several population-based studies have reported an association between peripheral inflammatory cytokine levels and the risk of cognitive impairment/dementia.

“Dementia develops over a long preclinical period, and its association with inflammatory markers may be a consequence of the disease process rather than a causal association,” ​the researchers wrote.

“Therefore, investigations of the role of inflammatory markers in the early stages of the disease process where cognitive decline is apparent but has not yet developed into the full clinical dementia syndrome are important. In this context, we selected individuals suffering from MCI and utilized a folic acid intervention to attenuate inflammation, as we believe this treatment would be a feasible public health strategy for preventing dementia.”

They concluded that folic acid has significant anti-inflammatory and memory-enhancing properties.

“Supplementing the subjects’ diets with 400mg of folic acid daily for twelve months significantly improved their cognitive performance and reduced systemic inflammation.

“Cognitive improvement resulting from folic acid supplementation depends on regulating the peripheral inflammatory cytokine levels. Folic acid is a promising treatment for individuals with mild cognitive impairment,” they added.

Source: Scientific Reports

doi:  10.1038/srep37486

“Folic acid supplementation improves cognitive function by reducing the levels of peripheral inflammatory cytokines in elderly Chinese subjects with MCI”.

Authors: Fej Ma, et al​.

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