Folic acid + B-12 promote memory function improvements in older adults

Oral folic acid and vitamin B-12 supplementation to prevent cognitive decline in community-dwelling older adults with depressive symptoms – the Beyond Ageing Project: A randomized controlled trial
– Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Jan 2012

Janine G Walker, et al.

[Note: Folic acid (folate) and B-12 are both important parts of the B vitamin complex. It is unclear from the abstract alone whether the supplemented subjects’ mood issues were helped, though cognitive/memory problems and depression seem often linked.]

Evidence remains unclear as to whether folic acid (FA) [aka folate, a B vitamin] and vitamin B-12 supplementation is effective in reducing depressive symptoms.

The objective was to determine whether oral folic acid + vitamin B-12 supplementation prevented cognitive decline in a cohort of community-dwelling older adults with elevated psychological distress.

Design: A randomized controlled trial (RCT) with a completely crossed 2 × 2 × 2 factorial design comprising daily oral 400 micrograms [mcg] folic acid + 100 micrograms [mcg] vitamin B-12 supplementation (compared with placebo), physical activity promotion, and depression literacy with comparator control interventions for reducing depressive symptoms was conducted in 900 adults aged 60 to 74 years with elevated psychological distress (Kessler Distress 10–Scale; scores >15).

The 2-year intervention was delivered in 10 modules via mail with concurrent telephone tracking calls.

Main outcome measures examined change in cognitive functioning at 12 and 24 months by using the Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status–Modified (TICS-M) [tests for a number of factors including several measures of memory] and the Brief Test of Adult Cognition by Telephone (processing speed); the Informant Questionnaire on Cognitive Decline in the Elderly was administered at 24 months.

Results: Folic acid + vitamin B-12 improved the TICS-M total (P = 0.032; effect size d = 0.17), TICS-M immediate (P = 0.046; d = 0.15), and TICS-M delayed recall (P = 0.013; effect size d = 0.18) scores at 24 months in comparison with placebo.

No significant changes were evident in orientation, attention, semantic memory, processing speed, or informant reports.

Conclusion: Long-term supplementation of daily oral 400 mcg folic acid + 100 mcg vitamin B-12 promotes improvement in cognitive functioning after 24 months, particularly in immediate and delayed memory performance.

This trial was registered at as NCT00214682.

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Jan 2012;95(1). doi: 10.3945, by  Walker Jg, Batterham PJ, Mackinnon AJ, Jorm AF, Hickie I, Fenech M, Kljakovic M, Crisp d, Christensen H. Centre for Mental Health Research, and Academic Unit of General Practice and Community Health, Medical School, Australian National University, Canberra; ORYGEN Youth Health and University of Melbourne; Brain and Mind Research Institute and University of Sydney; Nutrigenomics and Genome Health Laboratory, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Adelaide, Australia.

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