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(PSYCHIATRIC TIMES) - The big puzzle of Alzheimer disease (AD) is far from being pieced together. It has no defined borders and unknown missing pieces. However, new pieces continue to be found on a regular basis, and some of them point to steps that can be taken today or in the near future.

From the inaugural July issue of Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association, one suggestion for reducing the risk of AD in your patients can be deduced: advise older adults to take the 400-µg recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of folate daily, balanced with the other B vitamins (Corrada MM et al. 2005;1:11-18). The researchers, led by Maria M. Corrada, ScD, assistant professor of neurology at the University of California, Irvine, analyzed data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging to produce what they described as the first study to report an association between risk of AD and folate consumption and to provide an analysis of antioxidants and B vitamins at the same time.

They studied the diets of 579 nondemented persons aged 60 and older, comparing the nutrient consumptions of individuals who later developed AD with those who didn't. The results: individuals who consumed the RDA or more of folate reduced their risk of AD by 55%. Most of them supplemented their food consumption with vitamins, which suggests that just eating bananas, oranges, leafy green vegetables, and other folate-rich foods isn't enough.

Interestingly, consumption levels above the RDA of folate did not provide additional protection, and in the analysis involving multiple vitamins, only folate was associated with a reduced risk of AD. However, the researchers cautioned that other factors not studied could be responsible and that the persons studied did not represent a diverse population.

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