Folic acid and B12 won’t slow cognitive decline

In one of the largest studies on the subject to date, researchers from the Netherlands found there was no difference in memory test scores between people who had taken the supplements daily for two years and those who were given a placebo.

The researchers said while early findings from observational studies examining the effects of these supplements on cognitive performance showed promising results, subsequent randomised trials have been less convincing.

Benefits of the supplements were thought to stem from their ability to lower blood levels of homocysteine (Hcy), an amino acid that, in high levels, has been linked to memory loss and dementia, the authors said.

“Since homocysteine levels can be lowered with folic acid and vitamin B12 supplements, the hope has been that taking these vitamins could also reduce the risk of memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease,” the authors noted.

But in the study of nearly 3000 participants