What are the effects of folic acid supplements on memory?

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Some research has suggested folic acid supplements may improve memory, especially in the elderly -- but the evidence is preliminary. In one study, men and women ages 60 to 74 who took 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid along with 100 mcg of vitamin B12, for two years, did better on memory and other cognitive tests compared to people who took placebos (sugar pills that contain no active ingredients). Not all studies have found a memory benefit from folic acid supplements, however, so more research is needed.
Poor folate status is associated with an elevation in homocysteine. By impairing DNA repair mechanisms and inducing oxidative stress, homocysteine can cause the dysfunction or death of cells in the nervous systems. This increased cell death can lead to greater damage to neurological tissue and reductions in neural health. Restoring adequate folate levels will decrease homocysteine and has shown improvements in cognitive function. Subjects in a 2007 study consumed 800mcg of folic acid/day for three years and scored higher on cognitive tests than placebo.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.