A recent study suggests that low folate (vitamin B-9) intake might increase the risk for memory loss or dementia later in life.
Folate and folic acid are forms of a water-soluble B vitamin. Folate occurs naturally in leafy green vegetables, while folic acid is the synthetic form of the vitamin. Low levels of folate have previously been linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers analyzed data on 7,030 postmenopausal women from the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study who did not have memory loss or dementia at the beginning of the study. Data on B vitamin intake was collected through questionnaires. Throughout the average 5-year follow-up period, 238 cases of memory loss and 69 cases of dementia were identified.
The researchers found that women who consumed folate levels below the recommended daily allowance at the beginning of the study had an increased risk of developing memory loss or dementia. However, there was no link between vitamin B-6 or B-12 and memory loss or dementia risk. The authors concluded that low folate intake might increase the risk for memory loss or dementia later in life. However, additional research is necessary to further evaluate these findings.
Below are five folate-rich foods you should include in your diet:
- Legumes – Legumes are the fruit or seed of any plant in the Fabaceae family, including beans, peas and lentils. Legumes are rich in folate and many other nutrients. One cup of cooked lentils contains 90% of the DV, while one cup of cooked kidney beans contains about 33% of the DV.
- Asparagus – Asparagus contains a concentrated amount of many vitamins and minerals, including folate. Asparagus is also high in fiber and contains a generous amount of folate, with about 34% of the DV per half-cup serving.
- Leafy Greens – Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and arugula are low in calories yet bursting with many key vitamins and minerals, including folate. One cup of raw spinach contains about 15% of the DV. Leafy greens are also high in fiber and vitamins K and A. They’ve been associated with a host of health benefits.
- Beets – Beets are rich in many important nutrients. They contain much of the manganese, potassium, and vitamin C that you need throughout the day. They’re also a great source of folate, with a single cup of raw beets containing about 37% of the DV.
- Brussels Sprouts– This nutritious vegetable belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables. Brussels sprouts are full of many vitamins and minerals and are especially high in folate. A half-cup serving of cooked Brussels sprouts can supply 12% of the DV. They’re also a great source of kaempferol, an antioxidant associated with numerous health benefits.