Folates - The New Brain Food!
A recent study conducted at the University of California Irvine suggests that folates, the B-vitamin nutrients found in oranges, legumes, leafy green vegetables and folic acid supplements, are more effective in reducing the risk of Alzheimer's disease than antioxidants.
Maria Corrada and Dr. Claudia Kawas of UC Irvine's Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia looked at the diets of 579 healthy men and women over 60-years-of-age, using data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. They compared the dietary and supplement intake of 57 participants, who later contracted Alzheimer's disease, to those that remained healthy. The researchers found that subjects who had a higher intake of folates, vitamin E and vitamin B6 has a lesser rate of contracting the disease. Among those three vitamins, only folates were associated with a significantly decreased risk.
Participants who took more than the 400 mcg recommended daily allowance of folates had a 55% reduction in risk of developing Alzheimer's. Most people reached that level through supplements rather than diet alone. The researchers note that although folates seem more beneficial than other nutrients, an overall healthy diet is recommended for limiting the risk of developing the disease.
Folates are rich in foods such as liver, kidneys, yeast, bananas, whole-wheat bread, beans, eggs and milk, but are often destroyed during cooking. Although folates have been added to U.S. grain products since 1998, many Americans are still deficient in this nutrient. Folates are also known to reduce birth defects and may help prevent heart disease and strokes.
This is the largest study to date on the relationship between folates and Alzheimer's disease, and the largest to analyze antioxidants and B vitamins together. Results are published in Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association.
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