Does Lowering Homocysteine Decrease Risk of Dementia?

The study was done based on observational studies suggesting that plasma homocysteine concentrations are inversely related to cognitive function in elderly people: certain B-vitamins are needed to prevent the level of homocysteine from increasing, and high homocysteine has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and dementia.

This was a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial with 276 healthy participants, 65 years old or older, with plasma Homocysteine concentrations of at least 13 mcg/L.

The daily supplements the participants received were folate (1000mcg), B12 (500mcg), and B6 (10mg). Cognition tests were performed at baseline, after 1 year, and after 2 years. The decrease in Hcy during the treatment was significant, but there were no significant differences between the vitamin and placebo groups in the cognition tests.

Dr. Ray Hinish’s Comments:

These results do not surprise me. Observational research has shown clear correlations with high homocysteine and an increased risk of cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Homocysteine is certainly not the only cause of cognitive decline, however, it likely does speed the progression. This effect likely occurs from many years of chronically elevated homocysteine and its slow poisoning effect on the body. Lowering homocysteine is not likely to benefit someone’s brain significantly over a 1-2 year period, but likely plays more of a role over 10-20 years. This is why these results do not surprise me. My fear is that the press will get a hold of this research and publish more junk about how B vitamins and lowering homocsyteine has no benefit to the body. Don’t buy into this ignorant view! Homocysteine is likely one important factor in the progression and development of many diseases including heart disease and dementia. It is not the ONLY cause to these conditions. Keep homocysteine in a healthy 5-7 range and score one more point for optimal health.

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