Vitamin B12 and Folate deficiencies tied to Alzheimer's.





Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Folic Acid Vitamin B12
Professional Data: Folic Acid Vitamin B12


Alzheimer's disease is an illness that causes the brain to gradually degenerate, leading a person to forget things such as recent events or small tasks. This disease becomes progressively more serious as time passes by, causing the person to become more and more forgetful. Eventually, the individual is no longer be able to care for themselves. Currently there are no treatments to prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer's although there are some drugs that are used to relieve certain symptoms of the disease. One person out of eight over the age of 65 years will get this disease, and almost one half of those over 85.1 People in their 30's and 40's can also get Alzheimer's disease, but not nearly as often as those who are older.

Research into Alzheimer’s continues in order that we are able to learn more about this disease, and hopefully, find a cure. Recently a study was published in the May 8th issue of Neurology that looked at the ties of vitamin deficiencies and Alzheimer's disease (AD). Researchers analyzed the association of serum levels of vitamin B12 and folate, and the occurrence of AD. The study took place in Sweden, and consisted of 370 non-demented people ages 75 and older, who were not being treated with folate or vitamin B12. Low levels these vitamins were defined as follows: vitamin B12 <150 and <250 pmol/L and folate <10 and <12 nmol/L. The study participants were then followed for 3 years.

When using these standards of low vitamin levels compared to individuals with normal levels, the results showed that the low level group had twice the risk for developing AD. The authors noted that the association between AD and the vitamins was even stronger in subjects that had good cognitive function. No interaction was found between folate and vitamin B12. The authors concluded, "This study suggests that vitamin B12 and folate may be involved in the development of AD. A clear association was detected only when both vitamins were taken into account, especially among the cognitively intact subjects. Monitoring serum B12 and folate concentration in the elderly may be relevant for prevention of AD."2


1. Alzheimer's Association. Alzheimer's Disease Statistics. Updated 2000.
2. Wang HX, et al. Vitamin B12 and Floate in relation to the development of Alzheimer's disease. Neurology. May 2001;56:1188-1194.