|Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor|
A recent analysis of a number of studies has found that low levels of folate may be associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment.
Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin that plays an essential role in the necessary functions of the human body. It has been linked with nervous system function, red blood cell formation, and hormone function.
The analysis included 21 studies. Twelve of them examined the effects of folate supplementation on cognitive impairment, and nine of them examined the effects of vitamin B12 supplementation on cognitive impairment.
The analysis also included results from a non-published cross-sectional study that included 593 participants over the age of 65 that found an association between low folate levels and cognitive impairment.
The researchers found that low serum folate levels were associated with higher cognitive impairment. However, no association between vitamin B12 levels and cognitive impairment was found.
Researchers from the Athens University Medical School conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on April 7, 2013, in the Journal of Aging Health.
Previous studies have found a potential link between folate and reductions in hearing loss and birth defects.
Our bodies do not naturally synthesize B vitamins. However, it is easy to increase your intake by eating more folate- rich foods. Some foods rich in folate include liver, eggs, beans, sunflower seeds, asparagus, leafy green vegetables, oranges, strawberries, cantaloupes, and other melons. Folic acid can be found in supplement form and as an additive in foods such as bread, cereal and grains.