Vitamin B9 and How Folic Acid Affects Dementia
As we grow older, it’s normal for our brains to experience something called cognitive decline. This is when our brains start to become weak and aren’t able to function as well as they used to. It’s a natural part of the aging process and will happen to everyone at some point in their life.
As humans, our main goal is to put our body in a position that slows this cognitive decline and keeps our brains functioning at peak performance for as long as possible. Unfortunately, this isn’t a reality for most people and cognitive decline will start to take over their quality of life.
We see this often in dementia patients, where they start to experience memory loss, the ability to speak, and everything else that might involve thinking or reasoning. It’s a sad part of life, but it’s something we must prepare for and should try to prevent as much as possible.
Even when dementia starts to affect someone we love, we must do what we can in order to slow it down as much as possible. Luckily, science has provided us with some quality ways to prevent this and in some cases treat the symptoms of dementia.
One of those preventions that has raised eyebrows in recent years is Vitamin B9, one of the eight b-complex vitamins found in the body and diet. Don’t worry, we’ll break down everything you need to know about Vitamin B9 and its effect on dementia patients. First, however, we must understand what dementia is and why it’s so damaging to our health and quality of life.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term that refers to a wide range of diseases and disorders affecting someone’s memory, reasoning, thinking, behavior, and cognitive skills as a whole. This shouldn’t be confused with the normal cognitive decline we experience as we age but instead should be thought of as a more extreme loss of cognitive function.
There are many different types of dementia, but Alzheimer’s disease accounts for nearly 60-80% of dementia cases. We’ll take a look at some of the most common forms of dementia and the differences between them all:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
Generally caused by the death of brain cells and quickly spreads throughout the brain.
- Vascular Dementia
Generally caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain and is often related to a stroke. Might cause trouble with vision, as well.
- Lewy Body Dementia
Generally caused by protein deposits found in the nerve cells, which interrupt neural messaging.
- Parkinson’s Disease
Generally caused when the substantia nigra in the brain loses brain cells, affecting our ability to reason with visual information.
- Frontotemporal Dementia
Also known as Pick’s disease, this form of dementia affects the sides and front of the brain. It will largely affect language and behavior.
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
One of the more rare forms of dementia, this disease is caused by an infectious protein in the brain (called prion).
- Wernicke-Korsakoff Disease
This form of dementia is caused by bleeding in the lower parts of the brain, which is caused by a lack of Vitamin B1 in the diet.
- Mixed Dementia
Believe it or not, many people will fall under this category and will have several different forms of dementia at once.
- Huntington’s Disease
this disease is generally caused by the premature breakdown of brain cells. This disease can be found in adolescence or in your 30s-40s.
Now that we have a better understanding of everything that falls under the term “dementia,” we can start to see how this type of disorder can pretty severely impact someone’s life -- especially if they have multiple forms of dementia.
Can Vitamin B9 Help?
There was one study that looked at a total of 166 people -- 47 Alzheimer’s patients, 41 vascular dementia patients, 36 mixed dementia patients, and 42 people with no cognitive impairment. When each of these people had their folate levels checked, the study noticed an increase in Vitamin B9 deficiency in those with dementia.
Furthermore, the results for each of the three different types of dementia came back fairly similar, suggesting that Vitamin B9 was a common issue in dementia patients.
There have been two more major studies that have come back with similar results, proving that there is a link between Vitamin B9 deficiency and dementia or cognitive impairment. More studies are needed to see if supplementation can help reduce this risk, but early studies have come back positive.
Vitamin B9 and Folic Acid
In order to fully understand Vitamin B9, you have to understand the different forms of it and which ones are best for your body. You’ve likely heard it called folate, folic acid, or methylfolate -- when it’s not being called Vitamin B9.
The truth is Vitamin B9 is an umbrella term (just like dementia) for those three different nutrient forms. You can think of it this way:
- Folate is the natural form that we find typically occurring in food.
- Folic acid is the synthetic, man-made form we see fortified in food or in supplements.
- Methylfolate as the active form the body converts Vitamin B9 into before it can be used.
Folate consumption is often preferred over folic acid because it’s much more effective. Not all the folic acid you consume will be converted to methylfolate, but the folate is ready to go. You can find folate in dark green leafy vegetables, beans, peanuts, seeds, fruits, and whole grains.
If you’re struggling to eat enough folate in your daily diet -- which should be about 400mcg per day -- methylfolate is the best way to supplement because your body won’t need to do any of the complex conversions in order to make use of it right away.
Signs and Symptoms of Dementia
There are a lot of different signs and symptoms of dementia that will relate to your memory and brain. Knowing how to spot these can help you diagnose dementia in your loved ones early. The earlier we catch it, the easier it will be to reduce the symptoms.
Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms to keep an eye out for:
- Changes to your mood, mood swings, and signs of depression
- Memory loss and difficulty recalling information (short-term or long-term)
- Finding it hard to concentrate, focus, and keep your attention.
- Simple and everyday tasks start to seem like difficult tasks (doing basic math, spelling a word)
- Can’t follow a conversation fully, start to get confused, or difficulty finding the right response
- Not knowing where you are or what time it is
Other Ways to Fight Dementia
Here are some of the more important ways to naturally reduce the risk of dementia:
- Regular exercise and physical activity is essential for the brain
- Eating a healthy diet is a great way to give your body what it needs
- Avoid smoking -- and that includes marijuana, e-cigs, vapes, and cigarettes
- Avoid drinking alcohol in excessive amounts
- Enhance your brain activity by taking advantage of those little mind games on your phone
How Can Methyl-Life™ Help?
We also have an excellent brain health supplements:
- Focus & Recall.
It combines PQQ, Phosphatidylserine, and Citicoline, all of which combine to benefit your cognitive function and memory.
A special form of magnesium that’s proven to cross the blood-brain barrier and help with cognition and dementia (it was featured in an Alzheimer’s study journal).