More folic acid may help improve the memory in older adults

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Increasing the amount of folic acid in the diets of older adults may actually help improve their memory, according to Dutch researchers.

There already is evidence that a diet high in folate, a vitamin B typically found in grains and some fruits and vegetables, lowers women's risks of having a baby with birth defects and helps ward off heart disease and strokes. Scientists now believe a folic acid vitamin pill might slow the mental decline of aging in older adults.

For the Dutch study, researchers gave people ages 50 to 75 years either a vitamin containing 800 micrograms of folic acid a day, or a placebo pill over a three-year period.

Memory tests on the supplement takers revealed scores comparable to people five and a half years younger, lead researcher Jane Durga of Wageningen University reported during a recent meeting of the Alzheimer's Association.