A new study reports that adults who consumed vitamin B12 and folic acid supplements for two years had greater improvements on short- and long-term memory tests than adults who did not take the vitamins.
According to the researchers the benefits of taking the added vitamin supplements were modest. “Still it is encouraging and good news for aging Americans who are living longer and want to minimize the risk of dementia or cognitive decline,” declares Jesse Slome, executiove director of the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance, the national trade group charged with creating awareness for long term care related issues.
Today, some 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease according to the 2011 Long Term Care Almanac published by the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance. “Two thirds are women,” explains Jesse Slome, the organization’s director, “and most survive an average of four to eight years after diagnosis, though some live as long as 20 years.” Alzheimer’s is the leading cause for long term care insurance claims.
By 2050, the Alzheimer’s Association predicts as many as 16 million individuals will be diagnosed with the disease. They note that of Americans age 65 and over, one in eight has Alzheimer’s and that nearly half of all those who reach age 85 have the disease.
Researchers in Australia asked more than 700 people, aged 60 to 74 years, to take a daily dose of folic acid and vitamin B12 or placebos that resembled the vitamins. The study only included people who showed signs of depression, but were not diagnosed with clinical depression.
The vitamin dose included 400 micrograms of folic acid and 100 micrograms of vitamin B12. Scientists reported that after 12 months, there seemed to be no difference in how well participants scored on mental tests, including memory, attention and speed.
The researchers, however, reported that after two years the participants who were taking the real vitamins showed larger improvements in their scores on the memory tasks. They noted however that for any given individual, there may or may not be an effect.
The scientists postulated that the reason for the changed results is that the vitamins reduce the body’s levels of a molecule called homocysteine, which is linked to cardiovascular disease and poor cognitive function.
Financial planning experts advise that adults in their 50s and young 60s with a family history of cognitive disorders including Alzheimer’s look into long term care insurance. “Insurance is only available to those who can medically qualify,” Slome explains, “because the long term care insurance industry already pays out over $6 billion a year in claims, so they look for those who aren’t already diagnosed with some risky condition.”
To learn more about long-term care planning and get long term care insurance costs from a designated expert via the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance’s Consumer Information Center.
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