With Alzheimer's rates climbing rapidly, you need all the ammunition you can get to fight it. Now there's evidence that a nutritional deficiency can increase your risk of dementia by 350%!
That's a whopping big increase!
Researchers followed 518 people over the age of 65 in England for two years. They evaluated the subjects for dementia at the beginning and end of the period. They also evaluated them for folate, vitamin B12, and homocysteine.
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At the beginning, almost one in five had high levels of homocysteine. About the same had low levels of vitamin B12, and 3.5% were deficient in folate. Higher levels of folate and B12 went together. And, as expected, they were associated with lower homocysteine, since your body uses both to get rid of the nasty stuff. None of this is surprising.
What surprised me, though, were these alarming statistics: In just 2 years, 45 of the 518 developed dementia. Of these, 34 had Alzheimer's disease, seven had vascular dementia, and four had "other" types of dementia. Dementia was more common in those who were older, relatively uneducated, inactive, and who had deposits of the protein ApoE (a known risk factor for Alzheimer's).
Those whose folate levels were low at the outset were at a 350% increased risk of getting dementia. And if folate fell further, the risk was even higher.
This information really disturbed me. Not because of the folate story, but because in only two years, 8% of a subject population got dementia. This is real scary stuff.
The good news about the story is the linkage between dementia, homocysteine, and nutritional deficiency. Homocysteine, a metabolic poison, goes up if your vitamin B12 and folate levels are low. It also wreaks havoc on your brain.
If you want to save your brain, you need to have your homocysteine level checked regularly. It's just too easy of a problem to treat.
How do you treat it - and fight Alzheimer's at the same time? It's easy. You get ample amounts of vitamin B12 and folate. You first have to start with your diet. Vegetables are rich in folate. You can correct a folate deficiency simply by eating plenty of living uncooked veggies. Vitamin B12 is a little different. It's not as easy to absorb through your gut as folate. While studies find that B12 problems can be fixed with supplements, I still find that injections work best.