Eat your vegetables and protect yourself from dementia. Vegetables are high in folic acid; the word “folic’ comes from the word “foliage”. Adequate folic acid levels may protect you from dementia. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, affecting about 13 million people worldwide. By mid century the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease is expected to quadruple.

A study appearing in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry (Published online ahead of print, doi 10.1136/jnnp.2007) found a connection between folic acid levels and the tendency for dementia. Researchers followed 518 elderly individuals (average age 73) for a 2.4 year period. At the beginning of the study, none of the subjects had dementia.

Homocysteine is an amino acid that is associated with various health problems, including osteoporosis and heart disease. The body needs folic acid and vitamin B12 to convert it to more useful products. The subjects were tested at the beginning of the study and 20% had high levels of homocysteine, 17% had low vitamin B12 levels and 3.5% were deficient in folic acid.

At the end of a 2.4 year period, 45 of the subject developed dementia; 34 of those were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers noted that the development of dementia was much more likely in those subject with low folate levels and high homocysteine levels. So eat your vegetables, get plenty of folic acid and protect your brain.