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August 2013 communication
High Homocysteine Levels Linked To Reduced Cognitive Function

Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard

A recent study suggests that high levels of homocysteine in the blood may be associated with a higher risk of cognitive impairment in older people. Homocysteine is a naturally occurring, sulfur-containing amino acid in the blood that requires enzymes, vitamin B12, folic acid, and other vitamins to be converted to the essential amino acid methionine. Deficiencies in folic acid (folate), vitamin B6, vitamin B12, or betaine may lead to hyperhomocysteinemia, a medical condition characterized by high levels of homocysteine in the blood. The concentration of homocysteine in the blood will decrease after appropriate supplementation with the deficient vitamins.
In a recent study, researchers from the University of Western Australia and Royal Perth Hospital recruited 358 people over the age of 50 to determine if homocysteine levels may be associated with cognitive impairment in older adults with depressive symptoms. About 70 percent of the participants met the criteria for major depression. The researchers collected blood samples to determine levels of homocysteine, vitamin B12, and folate, and administered cognitive tests to assess verbal and visual recall and memory. The researchers found that people who had major depression and high homocysteine levels performed significantly worse on the cognitive tests. Participants who had high homocysteine levels without major depression had lower scores than those with normal homocysteine levels. Furthermore, those with high homocysteine levels were almost twice more likely to show cognitive decline on several tests. The researchers concluded that high blood levels of homocysteine may be linked to weaker performance on cognitive tests, compared to normal levels, independent of the presence or severity of depressive symptoms. The authors suggested that B-vitamin supplementation may be an effective way to lower homocysteine levels and reduce the impact of cognitive deficits in older adults.


For more information about cognitive impairment or hyperhomocysteinemia, please visit Natural Standard's Medical Conditions database.


For more information about B vitamins, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database

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References
Ford AH, Flicker L, Singh U, et al. Homocysteine, depression and cognitive function in older adults. J Affect Disord. 2013 Aug 5. pii: S0165-0327(13)00565-X. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2013.07.012.
Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.

The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard Inc. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. Natural Standard is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.

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