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Vitamin B12, Folic Acid not linked to Boosting Memory, Study Finds

Update Date: Nov 13, 2014 12:44 PM EST

Taking supplements to prevent memory loss might not be effective, a new study reported. According to the researchers, vitamin B12 and folic acid did not reduce senior's risk of memory loss.

For this study, the team recruited almost 3,000 participants with the average age of 74. They all had high levels of the amino acid, homocysteine, which has been tied to memory loss and Alzheimer's disease. Half of the sample was given 500 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B12 and 400 mg of folic acid in a tablet form to take every day. The rest of the sample acted as the control group and took a daily placebo pill. The researchers measured memory and thinking capabilities via skills tests that were administered at the beginning and at the end of the study.

"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," Rosalie Dhonukshe-Rutten, of Wageningen University in the Netherlands, said in a journal news release reported by BBC News. "While the homocysteine levels decreased by more in the group taking the B vitamins than in the group taking the placebo, unfortunately there was no difference between the two groups in the scores on the thinking and memory tests."

The researchers discovered that participants who took the supplements had reductions in their homocysteine levels. However, the lower levels of homocysteine did not appear to have an effect on their memory and thinking skills. This study's findings contradict previous research that suggested that supplements could help curb memory loss in the elderly.

The study, "Results of 2-year vitamin B treatment on cognitive performance," was published in the journal, Neurology.

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